Neil Cowley is arguably the most visible pianist on the planet right now, due to his pounding piano riffage on Adele’s global smash ‘Rolling in the Deep’. And yet his star as a solo artist has yet to fully ascend. Four albums in and this could be the one that tips the scales of success in favour of his credible hybrid of proggish-rock, jazzy melancholy and English melodic whimsy. The jazz police have consistently laid the charge of ‘not enough improv to be jazz’ at Cowley’s door, yet his melodic rock-edged qualities are the very things that won the likes of EST and The Bad Plus such acclaim within the jazz world.
…Mount Molehill is a glorious romp of a record, which finds Cowley, bassist Rex Horan and drummer Evan Jenkins in overdrive throughout. Guitarist Leo Abrahams (of Brian Eno fame) provides subtle ambience, and the string quartet add some John Barry flourishes. Yet if …Molehill’s underlying message of winning life’s small victories is taken to reflect the pianist’s own attitude, then Cowley has quashed his inner jazz critic and created the most passionate and important album of his career so far.