Review – That Joe Payne – By Name, By Nature

“Flair is what makes the difference between artistry and mere competence. Cmdr. William Riker”
― Star Trek The Next Generation

Well, I never thought I’d start a review with a quote from Star Trek but these are strange times we are living in!

Ex- The Enid frontman Joe Payne reinvented himself and launched his solo career as That Joe Payne and has just released his first full album, ‘By Name, By Nature’, on 7th August.

I always like a bit of background to my reviews so here is what Joe’s website says about him:

“Born 1989, Payne is a classically trained vocalist with backgrounds in theatre, pop and rock music, remembered by audiences for his impressive 5 octave range and strong countertenor.

He is best known for his work within progressive rock as frontman of The Enid (2011-2016). During their time together, the band released 6 albums and 3 live videos. They received 3 Progressive Music Award nominations in 2013 and 2015, including Best Band, Best Album, and Best Event.

More recently, Payne has released collaborative work with Zio and John Holden, as well as producing solo material. 

His personal achievements include being voted Best Male Vocalist for two years running (2014 & 2015) in the Prog Magazine Readers’ Poll.

In 2019, Payne was invited to support Marillion at their fan-weekend at Port Zelande, NL.”

Now we’ve got that out of the way, here is what I think about the new album…

‘By Name, By Nature’ is fifty three minutes of pure artistry from a man who will be the first to admit that he certainly has a flair for the theatrical. It is a delight from the first note until the last and shows what an absolutely consummate performer Joe is, he is, honestly, a true entertainer.

After the dramatic instrumental opening of The Thing About Me Is the next two songs are pure driving pop music with a definitive diva edge to them. Title track By Name. By Nature and Nice Boy play to Joe’s talents and panache, imagine Andy Bell at the height of his fame with Erasure and, in my opinion anyway, you’ll be bang on the money. I am a particular fan of Nice Boy, you will not hear a more fun and jaunty track this year, I’m sure!

“He’s a Payne by name and a pain by nature…”

To be fair, I’ve met Joe and he does himself a great disservice with that line as he is a really nice guy, anyway, we then start to move into proper musical theatre territory with In My Head and What Is The World Coming To. The former song has a chorus that hails from Joe’s time in The Enid and is powerful and emotive and the latter is just pure theatre where Joe’s distinctive vocal is the focus.

Love (Not The Same) shows the soulful side of Mr Payne, a slow burning and sensual song followed by the soaring I Need A Change, which was previously released as Joe’s debut single and is still as powerful now.

The pared back, graceful feeling End Of The Tunnel is wistful and nostalgic and Music For A While takes the music of Henry Purcell and gives it an 80’s electronica backbeat. The album comes to a close with the stunning Moonlit Love where Joe’s skills as a songwriter meet his penchant for the theatrical, never has Beethoven’s music been put to a better use!

That Joe Payne has given us a highlight of the year, something entirely different to the majority of the rest of the music I have been listening to and all the fresher and inspiring for it. If you want to listen to an album that will take your mind off the world for a while and take you to a place of wonder and not a little wry humour then ‘By Name, By Nature’ might just be the one to take you there.

Released 7th August 2020

Order the album direct from the artists here:

Artist picture by Martin Reijman.

Episode 4 of Progradar Recommends – Tangekanic, That Joe Payne, Toundra, Flicker Rate

Welcome to another edition of Progradar Recommends and this time I’ll talk about new releases from Tangekanic, That Joe Payne, Toundra and Flicker Rate…

Tangekanic – Hotel Cantaffordit

I didn’t know what to expect when I went to the Summers End Festival in Chepstow last October with the Prog Guru™ himself, Mr David Elliott. It was a blast, a real home grown, family friendly festival with superb acts and a brilliant atmosphere. One of the highlights was the set from Tangekanic, a touring unit that plays the music of both The Tangent and Karmakanic and features members of both, working together in one collaborative set.

Well the guys took the show to the USA and, luckily for us, decided to record at the New Jersey Proghouse and release it as a live album – ‘Hotel Cantaffordit’. What a stunning release it is, Jonas Reingold – Bass Guitar, Andy Tillison – Keyboards & Vocals, Göran Edman – Vocals, Luke Machin – Guitar and Steve Roberts – Drums  deliver a rip-roaring set full of good natured humour and enough energy and vibrancy to power a small village in deepest Yorkshire!

Opening with an incendiary version of The Tangent’s Spark In The Aether and then a spirited interpretation of the instrumental Dr Livingstone (I Presume?)  from the band’s latest long player ‘The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery’, this hybrid band play as if they’ve been together for many a year.

There’s a real camaraderie between them and a fun feeling to their energetic and lively set, the dry asides from Jonas are a particular highlight as is the wonderful version of the Swedish band’s God, The Universe And Everything Else Nobody Cares About, the closing track, Steer By The Stars with a hugely entertaining performance of the uplifting Send a Message From the Heart segued on closes the album in style.

‘Hotel Cantaffordit’ also includes the emotive Sanctuary In Music and Two Rope Swings.

Rating – 80/100

Released 22nd March 2018

Order direct from The Tangent here

That Joe Payne – I Need A Change (single release)

I’ve met Joe a few times and he is a lovely and personable young man so it was with some concern that I heard he had left his role as front man for the legendary prog unit The Enid in September 2016. He was open about his issues with anxiety and depression and thankfully, like the proverbial Phoenix, Joe has risen from the flames and reinvented himself as a solo artist with this first single release, I Need A Change.

The music, written and arranged entirely by Joe, was brought to life in the studio with the help of three other recently retired Enid members; Max Read (singer and producer), Nic Willes (drums and bass) and Duncan McLaughlan (guitar).

I’m sure Joe would be happy with my description of him and his music as being very dramatic and he is almost operatic in his vocal delivery, the lush harmonies that abound throughout the track are a beautiful highlight. I Need A Change is a musical triumph and sees this remarkable front man back where he belongs. There is real melodrama to the powerful music and there is no doubting the breathtaking emotional performance that Joe delivers on his first solo outing.

If this were a vinyl single we would call Moonlit Love the ‘B’ side and it is another superbly theatrical piece of music that shows off Joe’s talents to perfection. If you buy the single you get another five different versions of I Need A Change including piano, strings and choir arrangements which certainly give excellent value for money.

I am really excited to see what this outstanding performer comes up with next!

Rating – 78/100

Released 2nd March 2018

Order the single direct from Joe’s online shop here

Toundra – Vortex

I was very impressed by Spanish instrumental band Toundra’s last release ‘IV’ so it was with heightened anticipation that I awaited the promo of their new album ‘Vortex’, the enigmatic cover certainly helped too!

Their sound blends powerful riffs, beautiful deep melodies and intricate atmospheres, all wrapped up in elongated electric songs that emphasized their dangerous flammable live potential. ‘Vortex’ tales that as a base and then builds on it with repeated layers of powerful and in your face instrumental rock.

Monstrous riffs abound, just check out Cobra to see what I’m getting at, and the rhythm section seems like it was hewn out of solid granite. If you like your music in-your-face, direct, dynamic and, well, bloody loud then you have come to the right place. Touareg is an eight minute monster (as well as a Volkswagen 4×4), the eleven minute brilliance of Mojave does show that band can craft an excellent tune as well and is worth the entry price alone.

I have always been a big fan of instrumental rock (see the Flicker Rate review that follows this) and Toundra have just elevated themselves to the top of my recommendations with “the most straight-forward, heart-stopping, earth-shaking album of the year.”

Rating – 80/100

Released 27th April 2018.

Order the album on CD or Vinyl from Burning Shed here

Flicker Rate – Skylight

I know the exact moment when Spencer Bassett stepped out of the shadow of his illustrious father John and became a bona-fide artist in his own right. It was when I stopped considering him to be the son of John Bassett and took the merits of Spencer’s instrumental musical project Flicker Rate on their own standing.

Unlike the monstrous riffage of Toundra ‘Skylight’ has a much lighter vibe, wistful and with a easygoing vibe. The title track has an almost world music feel to it and Cloud Drop and Shimmer take that and add a lazy jazz influence to give it real sophistication and maturity.

Final track Grow has a post-rock vibe at its core and adds even more of an easy going feel to this delightful EP. With his third release and its contemplative and emotive atmosphere, Spencer has proven himself to be a songwriter and musician of some repute and not a little skill, it’s a bout time we got a full-length album from him (are you listening Spencer?).

Rating – 79/100

Released 13th April 2018

Order Skylight from bandcamp here

Keep your eyes out for the next episode of Progradar Recommends, coming soon…




That Joe Payne – Debut Single

Ex-Enid frontman, Joe Payne relaunches as soloist “That Joe Payne”, announced direct from his website, published Friday 1st December 2017. He states, “After months of hard work, writing and recording, I am delighted to announce my return to music after a long and much needed rest.” Referencing to his updated name, Payne explains “If you’re wondering where “that” came from… It’s a reminder to myself never to allow my anxiety to break me again.”

Payne is best known for his work as frontman of progressive rock outfit, The Enid (2011-2016). In April 2016, shortly after the release of their last album, Dust, Payne fell ill with depression and anxiety. Unable to work, he officially announced his departure from The Enid in September 2016. His personal achievements include being voted Best Male Vocalist for two years running in the Prog Magazine Readers’ Poll (2014 & 2015) and three Progressive Music Award Nominations.

The singer songwriter has launched pre-sales for his debut single, ‘I Need a Change’ via his online shop. He describes the song as “the most heartfelt thing I’ve ever done” and “8 minutes and 23 seconds of pure unadulterated me.”
The music, written and arranged entirely by Payne, was brought to life in the studio with the help of three other recently retired Enid members; Max Read (singer and producer), Nic Willes (drums and bass) and Duncan McLaughlan (guitar). Artwork and typography have also been credited to Louis Sidis and Martin Kielty.

Pre-order link for ‘I Need A Change’

The record will be released in sync with the artist’s first live performance in almost 2 years. A re-launch show in his hometown of Northampton, at a converted cinema called The Picturedrome. Payne tells his followers he’ll be performing “the best of my back catalogue” for this one-off event, including songs from The Enid and other collaborations.
Tickets on sale now at

I Need a Change (Single)
Track List:
A: I Need a Change
B: Moonlit Love
Bonus Tracks (CD ONLY):
3. I Need a Change (45 Edit)
4. I Need a Change (Piano & Lead Vocals)
5. I Need a Change (String Quintet & Lead Vocals)
6. I Need a Change (Choir & Lead Vocals)
7. I Need a Change (Full Arrangement, no Lead Vocals)