With a career that spans almost three decades already, SHY front man Tony Mills returns with the release of his latest solo project entitled “Freeway to the Afterlife.” This was done rather quickly, I might add, after the latest SHY release “SUNSET & VINE” which came out just a few months ago. Now don’t worry SHY fans, Tony is still in the band… just taking a little break from the “ordinary.”
The first thing I must say about “Freeway to the Afterlife” is that if you purchase this looking for material similar to what you are use to hearing from SHY, you’ll be in for a HUGE surprise. Tony has put together a nine-song collection which is very different from anything you have heard from him before. “Freeway to the Afterlife” is a mixture of various styles ranging from blues to soul to funk to jazz. All the tracks are very unique in their own right but Tony is able to maintain the overall feel and texture throughout the CD, which blends these varying influences into an absolute nuance that any true music lover can appreciate.
Tony really went all out recruiting an ensemble of talented musicians including Tom Briscoe and Paul Waring on guitars, Dave (Weazel) Pearce on percussion, Chris Aldridge on alto and tenor sax, clarinetist Ashleigh Timmins, pianist Joe Basketts and backing vocalists Dave Saylor, Jacquie Williams, and Sue Clark . Even long time friend and SHY guitarist Steve Harris added his musical stylings to the CD which is rounded out by the incredible vocals of Tony Mills himself (who also doubles as a bassist on this release).
As a whole, “Freeway to the Afterlife” can best be described as having that mid to late 70’s jazz-fusion type sound to it made popular by bands like STEELY DAN, THE DOOBIE BROTHERS, or AMBROSIA. A more recent comparison could almost be on the lines of a KENNY G with vocals! As I said, it is different! But that by NO means takes away from the musical content.
“Salvation In The City” and “Somebody Up There” just SCREAM Stevie Wonder with those groovy, soulful melodies, heavy saxophone and piano parts and soothing backing vocals. “The Healer” has more of that jazz influence to it which you can almost close your eyes and imagine Donald Fagan performing.
The CD returns to that groovy, funky sound with tracks like “Revelation” and “Sensational” where songs like “Don’t Hurt Me Anymore” and “Gemini” really capture that soulful essence and are among the more moody arrangements on the CD. You will find “Airwaves” to be the most rock influenced track as it features some very nice acoustic guitar work as well as lead guitar parts making this my favorite track on the CD.
Finally rounding out the release is the title track “Freeway to the Afterlife,” another soothing, jazzy ballad which, again, showcases Mills’ incredible vocal talents as well as some sweet guitar and saxophone parts.
“Freeway to the Afterlife” has something for everybody who appreciates music as a whole and is not just stuck in a genre. If you are looking for a clone of a SHY release, this CD is definitely not for you but if you are a true connoisseur of music, I’m sure you’ll find the production, arrangements and styling easy to digest and appreciate.
- Tony Mills - Lead Vocals, Bass
- Steve Harris - Guitar
- Tom Briscoe - Guitar
- Paul Waring - Guitar
- Dave (WEAZEL) Pearce - Percussion
- Chris Aldridge - Alto & Tenor Sax
- Ashleigh Timmins - Clarinet
- Joe Basketts - Piano, Keyboards
- Dave Saylor - Backing Vocals
- Jacquie Williams - Backing Vocals
- Sue Clark - Backing Vocals
- Salvation in the City
- Somebody Up There
- The Healer
- Don't Hurt Me Anymore
- Freeway to the Afterlife