It’s ridiculous that Stephen Cummings is not in the ARIA Hall of Fame. For more than four decades he has been mapping the human heart with his incisive pop.

Cummings’ 20th solo album, the wryly titled Prisoner Of Love, sits comfortably alongside his early solo classics Lovetown, A New Kind Of Blue and This Wonderful Life, while one track, Lucy In A Black Dress, will have you fondly recalling The Sports. World-weary – “Every moment is a golden one,” he declares in the opening track, Life Moves On, before adding, “if you’re healthy and young” – Cummings is still capable of delivering songs that stab you right in the heart. For an artist who has made a career out of singing very sad songs, The Wind Blew Hardis a particular highlight. With a heartbreaking melody, it’s a melancholic masterpiece. And it sounds like a farewell, with Cummings singing, “I’m just learning how to fly.” Elsewhere, he confides “This is where the story ends,” and in the final track, he concludes: “And the world goes on and soon you’ll be gone.” If this is the end, Stephen Cummings is going out on an almighty high.

Prisoner of Love is out Feb 22 via Bloodlines.

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