Francis Dunnery’s (FD It Bites) latest musical venture, “Return to Natural,” takes listeners on an evocative journey through an eight-track captivating album. An analogue recording inspired by the renaissance of vinyl, featuring an exceptional lineup of musicians, including Paul Brown on bass guitar, Chad Wackerman on drums, Tony Turrell on keyboards, and Dave McCracken creating ambience.
Turning the Sky to Fire:
The album kicks-off with “Turning the Sky to Fire,” a laid-back dynamic affair, Dunnery’s vocals complimented by an ambient synth gradually intertwining with the rhythm section. A short taster of that unmistakable Dunnery electric guitar sound creates a sense of anticipation and excitement for what’s to come.
Return to Natural:
The title track, “Return to Natural,” and the pace starts to pick up, a sonic manifesto that embraces the album’s overarching theme. Dunnery’s vocals shine, delivering introspective lyrics about modern world living, frustrations with social media and phone use obsession getting in the way of natural conversation and relationships. Hints of the original It Bites sound here with a synth solo linking into a Dunnery guitar solo masterclass. Wackerman turns up the heat with intricate drum overlays.
“Magdalena” and a strong guitar hook transports us into a melodic and uplifting tune with a strong chorus, hard not to sing along. A light and shade section with intricate guitar work and ambient sounds, overlayed with familiar Dunnery vocal melody.
“Man Overboard” is an almost reggae-like composition that showcases the tight musical chemistry of the band, Wackermans rhythmic prowess drives the momentum with a free- form solo towards the end, complemented by Tony Turrell’s skilful keyboard contributions and multi-Dunnery layered vocal harmonies.
While We Were Sleeping:
“While We Were Sleeping” offers an initial reflective pause in the album, delicate guitar
passages and poignant lyrics. Dunnery’s ability to convey emotion through his vocals and
instrumentation is particularly powerful in this track. A gear change with a superb intricate
guitar solo and explosive rhythm section transports us back to that delicate Dunnery vocal,
Out of Order:
“Out of Order” injects a dose of unpredictability into the album head rocking guitar riffs anchor the track, classic Dunnery guitar sound doesn’t disappoint. I imagine this one played live, I smile.
Hot Spring Water:
The infectious rhythm of “Hot Spring Water” makes it a standout track. Brown’s bass guitar anchors the groove while Dunnery’s guitar prowess and echos of that original It Bites unique vocal and chord progression take centre stage.
We’re Going to Clean the Sea:
Closing the album on a powerful note, “We’re Going to Clean the Sea” is a call to action. A progressive rock masterpiece, It Bites fans will not be disappointed. The ‘Once Around the World’ track for a 2024 It Bites album and an epic finale that leaves a lasting impression.
“Return to Natural” is a testament to Francis Dunnery’s and It Bites artistic evolution. His collaboration with a talented ensemble adds depth and dimension to the album, making it a compelling and immersive experience. The album that possibly an original It Bites lineup would have made had they all remained intact, a musically mature 61-year-old’s interpretation rather than an 18-year-old’s.
“Return to Natural” is a commendable addition to Dunnery’s work. The approach to this album sets a benchmark for all aspiring young musicians.
The album is available through Francis Dunnery’s website www.francisdunnery.com. A worthy purchase for lovers of the original It Bites albums and progressive rock enthusiasts.