Rob Dickinson Fresh Wine for the Horses

It had to happen. After the quiet demise of UK rock and shoegazer stalwarts the Catherine Wheel, singer Rob Dickinson has resurfaced with his debut solo album. Having achieved a fair degree of success with his former band — more so in North America than their native England — Dickinson (cousin of Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson) relocated to the USA and took some time off, and was even rumoured to have returned to his previous vocation of designing fancy cars. Nonetheless, he maintained his passion for music and songwriting, and Fresh Wine for the Horses collects material written over the last five years. There are a variety of tempos and emotions here, with few very solid tracks, like the opener "My Name Is Love” or "Intelligent People.” The volume has definitely been turned down compared to his previous work, and there are even a couple of solo acoustic tracks. Mind you, he can still rock out, as evidenced by "Handsome” and "The Storm.” Dickinson’s voice has weakened a bit over time, but overall this is a good, honest album. It’s unlikely, though, that this will open a floodgate of excitement for these new songs, and some may be left wondering if the Catherine Wheel were best left to rest. (Sanctuary)