Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Chris Rea - Water Sign (1983)

I can hear your heart beat....


Released March 1983

Running time 40:24

This was the album that started to get Chris Rea a little bit better known than he had been. The eighties were in full swing and he would find his easy listening rock sound gaining more and more fans as the decade progressed. He was more than just dinner-party music for the mid-twenties/early thirties, but it was that group which gave him his initial popularity.


1. Nothing's Happening By The Sea
2. Deep Water
3. Candles
4. Love's Strange Ways
5. Texas
6. Let It Loose
7. I Can Hear Your Heart Beat
8. Midnight Blue
9. Hey You
10. Out Of The Darkness                          

Nothing's Happening By The Sea is a meditative opener, inspired, I am sure, by Van Morrison's Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart album from the same year. This was the sort of laid-back, walking pace, contemplative song that would come to characterise Rea's work throughout the eighties and nineties. It was the eighties, of course, so we could expect a synth-driven, new romantic-style number and duly got it in Deep Water. Candles is another track augmented by some contemporary keyboard sounds, although Rea's distinctive, smoky voice is far removed from the haughty tones of the new romantics. Rea's guitar near the end is very Dire Straits-ish.

Love's Strange Ways is a beautiful, late-night bluesy ballad enhanced by some killer Spanish-style guitar. Texas is not the song that appeared on the later Road To Hell album in 1989. It is a nice song with Rea now really developing his bluesy but romantic method of deliver. Let It Loose rocks solidly, and I Can Hear Your Heart Beat proved to be one of Rea's first songs that would go on to become well-known. It features a very Talking Heads-esque guitar riff.

Midnight Blue is a sumptuous, soulful ballad, with Rea showing just what a knack he was developing for writing a quality, moving slowie. An excellent song, best on the album. That trademark slide guitar makes its first real appearance half way through too. Hey You has a very eighties, summery vibe but it is again lifted by Rea's superb voice. Out Of The Darkness starts off like The Human League, with Rea going all Phil Oakey on the introductory vocal. Some solid rock riffs differentiate it from anything new romantic, though, as did the saxophone solo.

Chris Rea's albums had, up until this point, been very impressive, but somehow culturally out of kilter with the zeitgeist. Not any more, this was a very good eighties album and fitted right in with the "wine bar" sound that was beginning to proliferate. It was more than just background bar music, though, this was a good offering that still sounds good today.