Album Review: Ging – We’re Here, My Dear

[Self-released; 2022]

The story of the overworked, disconnected successful person that reevaluates their priorities and pivots to a new, happier direction has been told enough times that it has become a cliché. It’s hard thus, to remember why that story is so compelling until you see it happen. Adam Feeney’s legacy as Frank Dukes is impressive. Twenty years of production next to hip hop stars from 50 Cent to Drake, pop stars from Rihanna to Camila Cabello, and fellow producers from Ryan Tedder to Jack Antonoff, along with the legendary Kingsway Music Library, all make sure his impact in the music industry is felt. As such it was a surprise for many when in 2021 Feeney chose to retire that name, cheekily leaving it a Spotify tombstone.

Now, having left behind 20 years of production and 10 years of marriage, Feeney reemerges as Ging (a play on his middle name King) and invites us to join him on a journey through “all the things that made [him] first fall in love with music”. Though Feeney’s divorce permeates this record, it is a very different offering than both the many other breakup albums that have appeared in recent times and the classics that inspire them, including Marvin Gaye’s accidentally referenced Here My Dear. Rather than focusing on conflict, We’re Here, My Dear is devoted to new cycles as portrayed through acoustic ballads and pop-rock psychedelia.

The record opens with the title track and mission statement, where the singer vulnerably contemplates the fragility of his love story over a sparse instrumental, before the drums emerge to create the perfect framing for the conflicted, resigned emotions displayed as Feeney sings “We’ve gone too far we can’t look back now”. It’s a great introduction to the album’s sentiment: we’re here, my dear, so what now?

The album that follows is not an answer to that question so much as an exploration of what the answer could be. Singles “Never Want To Leave” and “Miracles” have the singer looking around him with new eyes in this new phase. The former details an experience of trying to go back to love, as with a minimalist background Feeney pleads “Will you stay with me, darling please”. The latter, described by the artist as “life-affirming”, is arguably the album’s most joyful moment. As he sings “Do you believe in miracles baby” over an enthralling mix of disco and psychedelia, one can’t help but feel the sense of freedom and energy that inspired this.

The second single, “Dear Boy”, is the album’s most interesting parallel. Taking on the same endeavor as Adele’s “My Little Love” of explaining divorce to a five-year-old, it trades the British diva’s vulnerable self-reflection for reassurance and hope. Through rhythmic guitar and excellent drums and strings, the artist assures his son that although right now he doesn’t grasp what the situation means, “One day it’ll all make perfect sense”. It’s an endearing sentiment elevated by its paternal nature.

Though the record shines brightest at its most outgoing, the introspection is certainly not lackluster. “A Reason” strips the production down to almost exclusively voice and guitar, making for an eerily real portrayal of the rough and often lonely process of finding the courage to leave a relationship. “When I’m Gone”, with its dreamlike synth atmosphere, is a beautiful reflection on the value of our connections with others. Lead single “Can You See Me is a compelling plea for sympathy, as Feeney sings “Don’t look away, don’t let it fade” in the album’s biggest expression of uncertainty and a rather moving performance.

The record’s most vulnerable moment, however, is wholly separate from the artist’s songwriting. Though Adam Feeney is a producer who knows little parallel, he is an amateur vocalist; his voice is often quite processed throughout the record. It is therefore a very beautiful moment when he covers Daniel Johnston, another songwriter who never let the limits of his voice stop him. Johnston’s “True Love Will Find You In The End” is also a perfect match for the kindness with which Feeney approaches the journey of this record, as he ends his relationship not with anger or bitterness but with well-wishing.

Even if it’s odd to call something delivered 20 years into a career a debut, Ging earns both that distinction and applause for how entirely separate from the work of Frank Dukes this album is. The listener willing to engage with Feeney’s experimentations in this new direction and patient enough to allow his singing to grow on them is rewarded with a work thoroughly complex and emotionally true. Feeney has always been a rather mysterious figure, so it is uncertain whether Frank Dukes will stay dead or whether he might become someone else entirely, but We’re Here, My Dear leaves one hoping for a long and prolific career for Ging.