Life You Imagine, Matt Goss’s highly anticipated solo album, is the classy, swinging sound of ambition, passion, and the realisation of 27 years’ experience in the music industry. If Goss’s pop career hit an early peak with “I Owe You Nothing” and “When Will I Be Famous”, the classic Eighties hits he enjoyed with Bros when he was just 17, it reaches an impressive new high with this brand new solo album – a project sprung into life by the singer and showman’s long-running, hot-ticket, weekly residency in Las Vegas.
“I wanted to write an uplifting album about the Vegas experience and feeling like a man,” says Goss with the insight born of an illustrious and varied career – and of being through the emotional mill. “You find your groove, and it feels good. I wanted it to reflect how I am now, and how I’ve been over the last four years, and what it’s like when you come through a big relationship.”
And it’s harder because Goss has a lot to say. He admits with a laugh that he and legendary producer Ron Fair (Christina Aguilera, The Black Eyed Peas) “butted heads a lot” during the recording of Life You Imagine. “We’re both very meticulous, and we did push each other – but in the best ways.” His ambition – to honour the spirit of the musical icons he adores, from Presley and Sinatra to The Police and Amy Winehouse – would require a lot of hard work.
“This is about as authentic as it gets,” he says proudly of an album, – proudly retro yet also smartly progressive – that features a 16-piece brass section and 32 strings “and a world-class band… I just had to throw everything I could emotionally and creatively at this record. And luckily Ron is a lunatic as well, in the best way. He calls it the album of his life.”
Luckily, blessed with the musical chops honed by a rigorously weekly Las Vegas performing schedule, Goss was more than up to the task. A cornerstone song was one he wrote early on, and indeed was the number he took to Ron Fair first. The cool, sassy “Mustang”, the emphatic album opener that showcases Goss’s seemingly effortless croon, is a song about the importance of freedom within love.
“When you love somebody you have to let them be as free as they can be; you have to have the courage to let them shine as brightly as they can be. So the image of the wild mustang is love, running and running and running – and if you set it free it’ll come back to you. That’s what I want in my life.”
This passion was apparent early on, even in the song’s most basic form. “Ron heard my first sketches for these songs and said to me, ‘I want to build skyscrapers on these demos.’ And that’s what we did over two years. I can’t even explain how long those two years were,” he reflects with rueful chuckle, “just chipping away every day at the songs.”
Rippling piano, brass and strings belter Strong is another deeply emotive song. “The most relevant line is, ‘I felt shame’. Most songs about strength don’t consider the idiosyncracies and the failings within you that you want to improve. I acknowledge my weakness as well as my strength. The pre-chorus is inspired by Elvis – ‘I’ve been lost, found, I fell upon a higher ground…’”
“Lovely Las Vegas” is another inspired homage, this time to the city where this proud Londoner now spends a huge chunk of his professional life. Like his Sin City show, it was inspired by his childhood love of the Rat Pack, their style and their films and their music. He recalls sitting at his piano through the night, knowing that the inspiration would strike. Finally, as dawn was breaking, the song came to him. And already the mettle of this brand new yet vintage feeling song has been recognised: it’s now played in the arrivals hall at Las Vegas’s McCarran Airport,
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