I went to watch Robert Jon And The Wreck the other week, the opening act was Troy Redfern – and by that I mean literally. He was on his own, playing his songs and belting a kick drum, a bit like Steve Hill.

Being solo doesn’t bother Troy – and neither should it when you’ve got songs as good as him – but at the risk of sounding like one of those politicians who thinks they can speak “for the country” and thinks they know what someone else is thinking with any authority, I’d be prepared to wager that Troy is never happier than when he’s in a band.

Listen to “Scorpio”, the outright joyous piece of raw, bluesy rock n roll that kicks off “The Fire Cosmic” and you’ll hear it too. It bursts out of your speakers, like it means serious business. And his screeching solo is played with a genuine glee it seems.

That is the case throughout this. “Waiting For Your Love” (when I reviewed it earlier this year I mused: “if he was good before, then, this is better.) underlines it, and if you’re thinking “another blues rocker, that market is already overcrowded” then I wouldn’t, usually, blame you. The thing is though, Troy is not any old blues man. He’s got “One Way Ticket” in his back pocket. Slide guitar to die for, but with a raw quality that is as much Jim Jones Revue, or Jon Spencer as it is anything else.

And his grooves? Well how can we put this in polite company? They ooze sex. There’s a funky soul on “Love And War” and throughout, there’s an urgency. When I reviewed that single back in the spring, I said it sounded like failure wasn’t an option. On the full length, that’s even more the case. It sounds like he doesn’t want so much to break down the doors as take a sledgehammer to the things, frankly.

Whether he was inspired by the environment I don’t know. It’s possible, though, given it was made in Rockfield Studios were some of the worlds most legendary records were made from Oasis to Queen to Sabbath and Mott The Hoople they all came here.

Whether he was inspired by the musicians (Darby Todd on drums plays with Paul Gilbert so he must be top draw and Dave Marks on bass works with Hans Zimmer) is an equal possibility, certainly the special guest on “On Fire”, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal plays a blinder, but whatever it is, there’s a heady chemistry here.

Special bonus points for not following rules too. “Lay That Love Down” is flavoured with (maybe by, I couldn’t say) psychedelics, and “Ghosts” – one the ones which most naturally lends itself to a solo set, seems imbued with the same rugged coastal feel as Wille And The Bandits.

More than anything, though, this is a gifted songwriter and musician. “Saving Grace” – another acoustic one – is as misty and murky as something Seth Lakeman would write on the moors, while “Sanctify” is from the other end of the scale completely. Rock n roll with an evil intent, like Jet perhaps back in the day, it stomps like a glam rocker of yore.

The fact the last one “Stone” is a ballad shouldn’t come as a surprise on an album with such broad scope. That the artist knows his history is no shock either and the piano solo on the last notes is the one that Freddie Mercury played on “Bohemian Rhapsody” (I mean, I could tell you which song I preferred if hating Queen didn’t make me a pariah…..).

Every artist likes to grow, but it seems to me there are few who have taken such giant leaps as Troy Redfern in the last 18 months. To listen to “The Fire Cosmic” is to listen to an artist at the top of his game. I was going to say “peak of his powers”, but that makes it sound like there isn’t more to come. You suspect there is.

Rating 9/10

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