Release Date: July 14th 2023
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Spark Of Light
- Running Out Of Ways
- Eyes On You
- Beautiful World (feat. Justin Jesso)
- Whatever She Wants
- Just The Beginning
- We Could Be Something
- Out Of the Ashes
Michael Bolton isn’t that much of a recognisable name. He’s recorded the original song “Go The Distance” for the Hercules film back in 1997. But… that’s about it. He’s not a pop artist, but rather an adult contemporary artist along the lines of Richard Marx, Cliff Richard, Lionel Richie, and Phil Collins. Big in the 90’s and not much more, Michael is sort of popular for his songs “To Love Somebody”, “When a Man Loves A Woman” and “Reach Out I’ll Be There” (all covers), while “How Am I Supposed To Live Without You” and “Time Love And Tenderness” are both semi-popular hits for Michael. But there was this 90’s sound that he inhabited while he was at his peak; and even though Michael steadily has released albums, there hasn’t really been much hype for his music… until now. Spark Of Light recently released this past July, and it features Michael singing much of the same- inspirational adult contemporary songs and relationship songs in his signature style. But as most of his listeners have gotten older and some have moved on; how does this album rank amongst others this year and amongst his peers and contemporaries?
While others like “Richard Marx” have evolved and stayed relevant, some others have faded away, as that ‘easy listening’ genre isn’t what people gravitate to much anymore. It’s a shame, because sometimes laid-back songs like from Richard and Michael are songs that make you think. People have traded that in for club-ready songs for the dance floor with little to no meaning. And as such, Spark Of Light holds no relevance in 2023 whatsoever. All of the songs have that ‘90’s sound’, and it seems as if Michael’s music is stuck in time. That’s not necessary a bad thing for fans of his, but generally speaking, we’ve all moved on from that sound- in fairness though, Richard Marx does that genre the best and everyone else is playing catch up. Songs like “Eyes On You”, “Beautiful World”, “Safe”, “Home” and “Out Of The Ashes” are all album highlights. But they all sound… the same as each other. There’s no distinctiveness. There’s no evolving as an artist here, and Michael seems keen just to stay in his own lane. “Eyes On You”, “Whatever She Wants”, “Safe” and “Home” are relationship songs where Michael sings about a special significant other and relays that they are special to him, while “Out Of The Ashes” is that grandiose and anthemic melody about rising above adversity and overcoming your trials and tribulations. But there is no wow factor here and to me it seems like Michael is phoning it in. That may not be what he is doing but that is what it seems, and I certainly won’t be listening to this album in a hurry, given that overall, it was a total snooze fest. The aforementioned songs I mentioned were okay. But okay isn’t good and a comeback album can’t be just okay.
I don’t know what is next for Michael Bolton. This may be his last album. There may be another more. But until he drastically learns to evolve as an artist like Richard, or double down on his own style and hope for the best; I think I’ll just stick with his songs from yesteryear. Michael Bolton wasn’t really my favourite artist anyway, but listening to this album and reviewing it was more out of curiosity than anything else. And as such, my curiosity has been quenched. Spark Of Light is a non-event, but let’s pray that this genre of music overall stays in fashion, and let’s hope that another artist revolutionises the ‘easy listening’ genre for the better.
3 songs to listen to: Eyes On You, Home, Out Of The Ashes
RIYL: Richard Marx, Chicago, Air Supply, Westlife, Lionel Richie, The Eagles, Phil Collins, Cliff Richard