There’s a cliché in rock writing when it comes to praising godlike artistry in the vocal department: “he/she could sing the phone book and it would still sound amazing”.

Well, clichés are just generally home truths made contemptible by familiarity, but honestly, mid way through the superb Does He Love Like Me, as Oleg Lavrentev‘s sax honks it’s glorious last note, you find yourself contemplating another superb Hilli reflection on love’s labours lost – and yes, he really could be singing about plumbing supplies, or proprietary Haemorrhoid treatments, and the effect would remain the same – sheer, goosebump-inducing mayhem.

If Hilli’s clearest antecedent – Survivor‘s Jimi Jamison – was right, and it is indeed ‘the singer not the song’, then Nothing Left to Lose may indeed be the finest exemplar of that sentiment yet committed to wax; Not quite as exuberantly hit-packed as the man’s first solo album, The Rumble, this new effort is an album that requires our hero to do a little more heavy lifting to get some of the songs over the line – and my word he doesn’t disappoint.

Of course it’s not all perspiration – the wild-eyed brilliance of Heard It All Before is as good as anything Hilli has put his name to thus far in his career, augmented by superb work from fellow AOR Titan Michael Palace, whilst the all-needles-in-the-red Saving Us (coincidentally the other track on the album to feature Palace) will have those in the know digging out their copies of Michael Bolton‘s Everybody’s Crazy by way of comparison. It’s that good…

But for all the hunt-the-influence opportunities for the keen-eared listener, the fact remains that Hilli is a master craftsman, and very much a man in charge of his own destiny; His music does prompt memories of happier days, days when music was bigger and almost always the soundtrack to good times, but it only has this effect because of the sheer power and glory of THAT voice. Kent Hilli is easily the equal of the great names of the past, the names we lazy journos glibly dredge up when trying to explain just how good he is, and he proves that once more on Nothing Left To Lose. Essential listening.

Nothing Left To Lose releases on August 4th.