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Billy Ocean is back. It’s been ten years since his last album (Because I Love You) and even longer since his last consequential album. One World teems with hope, as the legendary R&B artist muses on the divisiveness in the world today and offers some wise words.
“Listen people, do we have to live with heartache? Do we have to live with pain?” Ocean begins with on We Gotta Find Love, a poignant, Curtis Mayfield-esque dialectic for mankind. The urgent dialogue of this opener is consistently raised throughout the album. On One World, he’s fairly blunt – “Callous people out there in the world today will burst your bubble… I’m delivering a message, I came here to tell you.” Re-emerging from where he left off in 1993, Ocean finds his purpose to return to music, pleading for his generation of fans – i.e. boomers – to combat outdated attitudes.
The next prayer for humanity is in All Over the World, in which the artist declares: “We’re looking on the outside when we should look within / If every man would judge himself, that’s when we’ll begin.” Halfway through this track, choir kids take over to sing the chorus, amplifying the communal feeling to the highest level and infusing the album with a spiritual fervour.
Whilst half of the album is an observation of modern times, the other half is vintage Ocean, distinguished by a fresh set of romantic ballads. Love You More, a mellow R&B-reggae hybrid, feels especially personal: “Girl, you’re my reason for living, and you can be sure I give you all my loving”. When I Saw You and Betcha Don’t Know sound like remastered 80s songs, complete with the layered and back-up vocals that make his classics so pleasant to the ears. Then there’s Nothing Will Stand in Our Way, in which we virtually hear Ocean saying “thank you” as he provides listeners with a great new choice for their wedding first dance.