Mark Moraghan - Moonlight's Back in Style - Ripon Gazette

Better by far than, say, Robbie Williams' Swing When You're Winning, this fan's trip into swing jazz transcends its fan's status, ironically, because it is the work of a true fan.

A superb collection of original songs, who would have thought Nicky Campbell and Mark Moraghan could make the genre feel so young?

Had Moonlighting's Back In Style been the work of someone with the right CV, rather than a well-known broadcaster and an ex-Holby City actor, it would have been snapped up already as an excellent soundtrack for a new West End musical or a wellspring of new material for the next release by Michael Buble.

Romance and worldy-wisdom + pizazz = good swing jazz and Campbell Moraghan certainly touch base with all points in this beautiful equation.

Upbeat numbers of real verve in the style of Songs For Swinging Lovers-era Frank Sinatra as arranged by the legendary Nelson Riddle (step forward this album's arranger Paul Buck for a job well done).

Lightweight vaudeville jazz-pop.

Lounge crooning smothered in melodic honey.

Dark, end of the night, bluesy numbers.

Such is radio and TV presenter Campbell's genuine wealth of musical references, there's even hints of Ray Charles-like country and 70s MOR, bolstered by tasteful touches of fiddle, pedal steel and ukelele, on The Birds Are Singing Your Name Again, Through It All and Many's The Time, the latter a sure-fire hit for Tony Christie in another life.

Backed by a seven-piece band - piano, strings, horns, Moraghan's nicely smooth voice is best when the rhythm burns brightest - Come For The Ride, A Blast From The Past, We'll Never Have Manhattan - all of them standout numbers.

The former Holby City star's vocals may not quite possess the bite or depth to add much to the album's more downbeat or poignant moments such Love Ran Out of Time or This Universe of Blue but flashes of emotional muscle burst through on ballsier tracks such as I'll Make An Exception For You.

The songs themselves are strong enough to survive anything - catchy, coherent and blessed with intelligent and witty, suitably bitter-sweet lyrics.

Classic swing jazz has always enjoyed an element of stretching words and rhymes in a cheeky way but it still comes as a shock at first to hear Campbell's contemporary, almost autobiographical, references to "sat nav" and "Obama" and "Brooklyn as in Beckham."

But it's this very modernity which gives this vivacious and impressive album its piquancy and helps lift the whole enterprise above a nostalgia trip. Make no mistake, Moonlight's Back in Style is worth the ride - and very far from a vanity project.

Ripon Gazette
26 March 2010