Ross Jennings -
A Shadow Of My Future Self

(CD 2021, 77:23, Graphite Records)

The tracks:
  1- Better Times(4:09)
  2- Words We Can't Unsay(5:04)
  3- Violet(5:30)
  4- The Apologist(4:56)
  5- Rocket Science(4:15)
  6- Catcher In The Rye(5:19)
  7- Since That Day(3:25)
  8- Young At Heart(8:14)
  9- Feelings(4:57)
10- Third Degree(4:35)
11- Phoenix(11:15)
12- Grounded(8:03)
13- Year(4:56)
Bonus Track:
14- Be The One(3:26)

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Ross Jennings is of course the singer of the fantastic prog metal band Haken and their last album Virus (see review) was one of the best albums of the year 2020. But do not expect any metal or prog metal songs on Jennings solo debut album A Shadow Of My Future Self as I would call this album an AOR album or a pop rock album, but also a very personal album.

Jennings first solo effort kicks off on a country road, navigates indie pop, anthemic rock, power ballads and ends up in a couple of epic prog songs, as Jennings clearly shows his love for AOR, mainstream rock and Neal Morse-like music. A Shadow Of My Future Self starts with Better Times, a four minutes acoustic pop/country rock song in the veins of Bruce Springsteen and to be honest it is not my favourite track on the album... Follow up Words We Can't Unsay is much better although that one is a true eighties pop rock song for sure; a potential hit single maybe? Violet kicks off rather “heavy” and has some Radiohead vibes and even some funky rhythms, while The Apologist is fast, weird, and extremely enjoyable, so a real humdinger! Rocket Science is very catchy, a song that I cannot get out of my head for days now and in songs like Catcher In The Rye, Since That Day and Third-Degree Ross Jennings shows his softer side, which are pleasant but not extremely special. The three longer songs, Grounded, Young At Heart and Phoenix are definitely the outstanding tracks here, of which Grounded is the most prog-oriented track of the entire bunch. Clearly Pink Floyd-inspired, the single Grounded also features some jazzy, proggy and New Age musical elements and it offers the best vocal performance of Jennings on this solo work. Young At Heart offers a bit of a bluesy feeling and it contains a wonderful laid back guitar solo by Jennings himself, while Phoenix, the longest track of the album, is a real ripsnorter, featuring a beautiful piano melody and a very addictive chorus. Phoenix is the absolute knock out on this album as it is a song full of emotions and atmosphere, but most of all outstanding melodies.

A Shadow Of My Future Self is a real surprise album to me, even though it has nothing to do with prog metal or the music of Haken. Jennings has made a memorable solo album; a very personal album, a stellar record, listen and be amazed as yours truly was. Jennings follows the footsteps of his “heroes” like Gabriel, Gilmour, Cornell and Wilson, in an almost perfect way!

**** Martien Koolen (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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