John Mitchell is a busy guy in the prog world. At least it sure seems like it! He has been a long time member of Arena, plus he fronts the reconstituted version of It Bites. He is also the guitarist for the on-again-off-again-now-on-again band Frost*. So it’s great that he has time to start his first solo project under the moniker “Lonely Robot.” He says that he decided to use that over his own name so that people wouldn’t think it was Joni Mitchell!
The album is “Please Come Home” and it is a concept album dealing with alien intervention with the progress of mankind. I think I got that right! The album does not sound like Arena or It Bites. The closest comparison would be the (so far) one off project Kino that John wrote most of the material for. The songs have plenty of power, hooks and melody. This is not progressive rock that needs a lot of notes, but rather it falls more in line with the bombast of modern pro.
John plays most of the instruments himself and does the bulk of the singing of course. I do love his voice! He has some interesting special guests. Steve Hogarth from Marillion plays piano on a few tracks. Bassist extraordinaire Nick Beggs is on a handful of tracks as well. More interesting is the guest vocal by Go West vocalist Peter Cox on the song “The Boy in the Radio.” His voice is similar to John’s as it turns out and has a deeper, huskier tone which works perfectly on the song.
Some songs like “God vs Man” actually veer more toward progressive metal with very powerful riffs whilst songs like “Why Do We Stay,” which is a duet with the talented Heather Finlay, show a gentle, pensive side. “Please Come Home” is a perfect showcase for John as a song writer. It also showcases John’s imagination and vision. This is definitely one the best records that John has been on, perhaps the best!