„Out Calls Only“ is the debut album of Donald Cumming, ex-The Virgins singer, at least regarding his solo career. On his mission to create this album, he was supported by his fellow musicians Ian Fenger (bass), Skip Johnson (drums) and the two guitarists, Jack Byrne and Jack Straw.
The album starts with “Game of the Heart“. The vocals seem to be rather in the background as the instrumental sounds clearly are in the spotlight – this makes for a rather botched beginning of the album. The melody quickly comes across as monotonous and undynamic, and also the flat vocals cannot really make it any better.
Also with “In the early hours”, the vocals seem to be not as present as they should be, even though they improved. The vocals´ slight distortion give me the impression that they were recorded underwater. The melody, accompanying the vocals, is not really worth mentioning, and the vocals themselves also seem to be all the same all the time - it seems the song is much longer than it actually is.
At least a bit more rock-like, musically, is „Lonesome for you“ – it has a nice basic melody, the instruments spice up the sound a bit, but again the sound is mostly based on the flat vocals in the background. Unfortunately, it´s once again a song that does not invite you to actively listen to it; it is just playing in the back and you cannot really hear the transitions from one song to the next.
All laid-back and with acoustic guitars as well as solid and simple vocals, this is how it all continues with „Total Darkness“ . The melancholic touch in the melody and the voice make this song the album´s best. This track is interesting and invites you to really sit down and listen to it and to close your eyes and let go.
Conclusion From a technical point of view, you can´t complain about too much. Maybe, that the vocals are not in the spotlight but rather silently disappear in the back. Overall, though, the sound and the songs´ atmosphere reveal a lot of space for improvement, as this album is far away from any modern sound.
Personally, I think the album would be most suitable for a vinyl release – something for lovers of older rock sounds… for me, it clearly is no album that I can recommend.