Sing another song as long as the words won’t break your heart
One thing that really pleases me with James’ solo era is the lack of acoustic solo moments. Usually a song like this would end up being a stripped down strummer but for some reason James decided to abandon that easy b-side approach and actually flesh out all his material. Don’t Look Back has the structure and sound of the usual Bradders acoustic moment but the fact that it’s gained meat around its bones does it a world of good – it’s one of James’ best b-sides and one of those moments where you feel that the song was given absolute injustice when it was decided that it should be cast as an outtake rather than an album centrepiece.
There’s beautiful, blissful weariness to Don’t Look Back. It’s the closing moment of a long journey where the heroes reflect on the adventure behind them, give a silent moment to the ones who were lost on the way and take a look at the uncertain future looming in the distance. It’s not what the song is about (if anything, the rather nondescript, openly vague lyrics are the song’s only weaker point) but it’s the overall mood around it. James does his best bittersweet tenderness and once again goes to show that he has more charisma than most rock singers around.
It’s just such a sublime song. It’s not particularly original perhaps, musically somewhat obvious in its heartstring-grabbing intentions, but it achieves what it was set out to do bloody brilliantly. It rings gorgeously and regally around the space, sounding carefully anthemic and grand with a sense of intimacy. The middle eight is easily one of the best of the period.
The backing vocals are performed by Thorunn Antonia, of the now-gone Fields.