Howard Jones Returns With 'The One to Love You' From First Proper Album In a Decade: Premiere

Simon Fowler
Howard Jones

It's been four years since Howard Jones released his ambitious multi-media project Engage. But the British synth-pop pioneer acknowledges that his upcoming Transform -- whose video for the track "The One to Love You" is premiering exclusively below -- is what fans will consider his first "proper" album in a decade.

"Engage wasn't really what you could think of as a studio album so, yeah, I supposed it's been a good while since I've done a full-on electronic album," Jones tells Billboard. "And the fans also have been begging me to do a synth record again, so, really, it was about time."

Transform, due out May 10, is the product of a couple of circumstances, according to Jones. The first was when former Take That frontman Gary Barlow asked Jones to compose some songs for the soundtrack to the 2016 film Eddie the Eagle about notorious British Olympic ski jumper Michael Edwards. "The film is set in the '80s, so (Barlow) said it needs to have an '80s flavor, but a contemporary sound at the same time," Jones recalls. "I wrote two songs for it, and they came really quickly. At the same time I was working on the remastering of the first two albums, so my head was sort of back to the '80s, really thinking about how I approached those original songs and why people liked them. After I wrote the Eddie the Eagle songs I thought maybe that could be the basis for a new album -- back to my roots, my electronic roots."

For Transform, meanwhile, Jones teamed up with friend and admirer BT for three tracks, including "The One to Love You," the first of their collaborations. "We're huge fans of each other," Jones says. "His production and his sense of incredible space and detail in his work, it's just mind-blowing. And then me with my melodies and my chord changes and lyrical direction -- we share the same passion, I think, so it's kind of an idea collaboration really." "The One to Love You" began with an idea Jones heard BT playing in the studio, "and I said, 'I can kill this track.' I was just brimming full of ideas about it, so I worked on it quite a while and sent it back to him and he loved what I'd done and he kept developing it on his side and I started doing better vocal takes on my side.

"I think because it was the first one we did there was such a lot of excitement between us to do something great together."

BT and All Hail the Silence, his group with BBMak's Christian Burns, will be accompanying Jones on the road this summer, along with Men Without Hats. "It really is a proper electronic lineup and everyone really digs everyone else's music," Jones says. "There will be a lot of band-swapping during the evening, I'm sure, because everyone knows each other. It's gonna be a great, really fun tour." It also comes on the 35th anniversary year of Jones' debut album, Human's Lib, which spawned his hits "New Song," "What Is Love?," "Hide and Seek" and "Pearl in the Shell," though Jones has no plans for a major commemoration of that mark.

"I don't know how to gauge it," he says. "It seems like a long, long time ago to me, like longer than 35 years because I've done so much stuff in-between. But at the same time it's very much part of my present as well, 'cause people know those albums and they love the music. But really I think just going out there and being on tour -- just being around, really -- is cause enough for celebration."

Howard Jones Transform Tour Dates with Men Without Hats and All Hail The Silence (more dates to be announced)

JUNE

6    Huntington, NY        The Paramount

7    Uncasville, CT        Mohegan Sun/Wolf Den (Howard Jones only)

8    Boston, MA        Paradise

9    Jim Thorpe, PA        Penns Peak

12    Asbury Park, NJ        Asbury Lanes

13    New York, NY        Playstation Theater

14    Union, ME            Savage Oaks Winery

15    Niagara Falls, ON    Fallsview Casino

16    Cleveland, OH        House Of Blues

18    Cincinnati, OH        Bogarts

19    Detroit, MI            St. Andrews Hall

20    Chicago, IL            House Of Blues

21    Milwaukee, WI        Potowatomi Casino

22    Kansas City, MO        Ameristar Casino

23    Littleton, CO        Hudson Gardens

25    Salt Lake City, UT    Red Butte Gardens

27    Seattle, WA        Moore Theater

28    Vancouver, BC        Rickshaw Theater (no Men Without Hats)

30    Portland, OR        Revolution Hall

JULY

3    Sacramento, CA        Ace Of Spades

4    Oroville, CA        Feather Falls Casino

5    San Francisco, CA    Regency Ballroom

6    Los Angeles, CA        Saban Theater

11    Phoenix, AZ        Celebrity Theatre

12    San Diego, CA        Humphreys

13    Las Vegas, NV        The Cannery Casino

16    Dallas, TX            House Of Blues

17    Houston, TX        House Of Blues

19    Atlanta, GA        Buckhead Theater

20    Biloxi, MS            IP Casino (no All Hail The Silence)

21    St. Petersburg, FL    Ferg’s Courtyard

22    Dania Beach, FL        Dania Beach Casino

23    Orlando, FL        Hard Rock Live