Alain Johannes - Spark

by Nathan Fidler Rating:7 Release Date:2011-05-23

Alain Johannes, heard of this chap before? No? Then shame on you. Those who do recognise his name will know he is a powerful ally of man-mountain Josh Homme, helping him in projects such as Queens of the Stone Age and Them Crooked Vultures.

Spark is his debut solo album released as a tribute for his now deceased partner Natasha Schneider. Fear not though, this isn't a ballad filled, soppy album. Alain sings with a strained confidence and though the lyrics clearly display his love and longing he is never over-indulgent. The best thing about this album is hearing the style and sound usually related to Josh Homme and friends painted out here. While so much is known about the likes of Nick Oliveri and Mark Lanegan, it would appear Alain is a bigger influence on the dark, playful sound of Homme's records.

Most of this album is played either on quiet electric guitars or acoustics and this is where the album displays its mournful side. 'The Bleeding Hole' is a slow, picked song with hushed, harmonic vocals. In contrast, 'Endless Eyes' is a rolling stomper, apparently the most open tribute to Natasha. Those who haven't loved the sound of QOTSA previously won't find much they like here but even fans of Alain's work might find this album a little one sided. This is understandable given its purpose and its theme, but by the time 'Unfinished Plans' rolls around you get the feeling you might have heard the riff elsewhere on the album.

There is no doubting this man's passion. For a first solitary outing there is much to enjoy, a great example of someone channelling their thoughts and emotions into music, but when it comes to selling records it would seem he needs Josh Homme just as much as Homme needs him.

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