Paul Hardcastle will be known to most slightly older listeners for his megahits Rain Forest and 19, which have sold millions of copies. His series The Jazzmasters was a considerable success in the field of smooth jazz, which he also continues with The Chill Lounge for the chill out genre.

The new album Hardcastle 8 (2018) has already announced itself through a number of video releases. Insiders will have heard the new melodies several times. Afterwards the impression is confirmed that his songs mostly settle in a dance floor suitable smooth jazz. On most of the songs the old companion Rock Hendricks plays the saxophone, as far as Paul's son doesn't reach for the saxophone himself.

Amber Skies, in earlier publications Amber Sky, starts the album with the Hardcastle own interweaving of different melody fragments to an atmospheric unison. Turn Down the Heat is Hardcastle's apodictic appeal against the climate catastrophe, which gives the heat-damaged listeners some cooling alternative.

Happy Go Lucky is the standard expression when something goes off lightly. Of course, we do not know whether the meticulous composer succeeded in recording this piece with such ease. It certainly sounds like that. With Stay in the Moment Hardcastle reminds us that time flows out of our fingers quickly, even if we would like to capture the precious moments permanently.

Jam On This returns to the age of the dance floor, at least Hardcastle gives us a sonic insight into this time, which unfortunately cannot replace having been there. Astral Vision as the title aptly suggests, conveys a spherical experience. A Horse with No Name was the hit of the group Amerika in 1971, whose melodic power continues to this day.  At the beginning of his career Paul Hardcastle had national success with the formation First Light and exactly this hit. Between 1982 and today, of course, it is a big leap forward, so his new recording sounds more contemporary, more agile, especially since the lead voice was taken by  Maxine Hardcastle now.

Hardcastle Boogie is as so often the case, a continuation of the dance floor time, from which the older Hardcastle fans have grown out in the meantime, while new fans feel the song quite refreshing. Dancing Galaxies is not limited to the constant repetition of a melody fragment, embedded in the Hardcastle universe, but serves Hendricks as a place of excursions for further variations.

Breaking the Ice should rather be titled melting the ice. A slow, empathetic piece capable of overcoming barriers. Echoes Rising is a bonus track from the album The History of Paul Hardcastle (2016), an ultimate Paul Hardcastle compilation. Fans might prefer the expanded nine minutes version available on iTunes. Cut Loose is the second bonus track, taken from this album and also on his 2016 project Echoes Rising. The style of these tracks which were also decoupled as radio singles, is reminiscent of the Hardcastle of earlier years.

Paul Hardcastle does not reinvent himself with Hardcastle 8. But which Hardcastle fan would wish for that. The way Hardcastle sounds, he remains the nation's groove master.







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Album Information

Title: Hardcastle 8
Artist: Paul Hardcastle
Year: 2018
Genre: Smooth Jazz
Label: Trippin 'n' Rhythm Records


1 Amber Skies 4:03
2 Turn Down the Heat 4:18
3 Happy Go Lucky 4:13
4 Stay in the Moment 5:13
5 Jam on This 3:52
6 Astral Vision 5:17
7 A Horse with No Name 3:57
8 Hardcastle Boogie 4:03
9 Dancing Galaxies 3:45
10 Breaking the Ice 4:20
11 Echoes Rising 4:03
12 Cut Loose 4:24

Further reviews:

Hardcastle 6

The Jazzmasters 7

The Jazzmasters 6