That the ex-Orange Juice frontman’s recovery from a serious stroke in 2005 is both extraordinary and inspirational shouldn’t cloud judgment of his musical output. Compelling back-story aside, ‘Understated’ - Collins’ eighth solo album - is a magnificent set of songs. The overriding sense is one of vitality and lust for life. ‘Carry On, Carry On’ is a bristling call-to-arms, while the Northern Soul stomp of ‘Too Bad (That’s Sad)’ is anything but melancholic. And when Edwyn sings (in his glorious earthen baritone) “I’m so happy to be alive” on the Lou Reed-inspired ‘Forsooth’, it perfectly encapsulates an album encased in naked joie de vivre.
Words by JOHN FREEMAN