Is Razorlight’s erstwhile singer Johnny Borrell really the arse that many music fans seem to think? After his debut solo album was announced, the hubris of titles like “Pan-European Supermodel Song (Oh! Gina)” prompted a fresh round of ridicule. JB didn’t seem to notice or care. Even as he toured half-empty regional civic centres on the run-up to the album’s release, his self-confidence never wavered.
Some call this behaviour delusional. But is it really? Unlike many of the vapid, wannabe Dylans who bother the indie charts, few could deny that Borrell has real talent. The disagreement lies over when he has used it and when he is just being a vain twerp.
Borrell 1 has a Kevin Rowland flavour about it. Not just in the nutty stories that surround it or the fact his chorus of "Gina" sounds a bit like "Geno", but also in his melodic fusion of rock, folk and soul. Now, holed up in Paris (presumably imagining himself as a Left Bank intellectual), Borrell has created an unusual yet generally satisfying gumbo. Acoustic piano and saxophone accompany Borrell’s voice on most tracks and the move away from indie-rock appears to have freed his imagination.