New Johnny Marr Single ‘Spirit, Power and Soul’ is a Vacillating Meditation on Existence

While his former Smiths partner spirals into whatever socio-political abyss he seems destined for, Johnny Marr continues to prove his relevance, especially in a world that doesn’t seem to give much of a toss about guitar music anymore (to wit, he recently collab’d with Billie Eilish and Hans Zimmer on the No Time To Die soundtrack). And never one to be found lacking in confidence, he’s now flying in the face of this long and terrible pandemic by releasing…wait for it…a double album this October 15 (via BMG). Titled Fever Dreams Pts 1-4, it promises to be impressively conceptual.

The first single ‘Spirit, Power and Soul’ has just arrived, and it finds the 57-year-old guitar god in a distinctly contemplative mode. To be sure, from the first verse, he seems to be agitating for a hopeful outlook, especially after these last eighteen months of fear and uncertainty.

“Yesterday is gone
Today I’m so on the run
How strange tomorrow will be
For you and for me
Cos we got soul don’tcha know ?
Now put your faith in the skies
And see the blues in my eyes”

Now, we’re not sure if “put your faith in the skies” means Mr. Marr has gone and found religion – but he does appear to be searching for something of greater divinity. Yet later in the song he seems to suddenly give in to doubt and apprehension.

“Lay awake too long
Dark has come hope has gone
I seen some glimmer in things
It’s just the visions I’m in”

Musically, the track straight away reminds of Marr’s early ’90s supergroup Electronic, a fruitful partnership with New Order‘s Bernard Sumner (he even sounds a bit like Bernie during the choruses). And though thumping electro-pop is not one might expect from Marr these days, the song is immediately absorbing, exhilarating even.

“‘Spirit, Power And Soul’ is a kind of mission statement,” he explains. “I had an idea about an electro sound with gospel feeling, in my own words… an electro soul anthem.”

For those brave enough to hop a transatlantic flight, Marr will play gigs in Leeds, Blackburn, London and Manchester between September 20 and 25.

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