Sunday, June 23, 2013
CHASING VIOLETS: "Jade Hearts"
Label: AOR Records 2013
Review by Kimmo Toivonen
The lovely Fontaine sisters Melissa and Sarah are already following up their debut album with their second effort "Jade Hearts". According to their website this album represents their rockier side. Well, it might have a little bit more bite than the first one but basically it's more of the same. To the fans of the debut that's good news I guess, but for us who weren't totally won over by it this new album is unlikely to change things too much.
Producer/songwriter Fredric Slama hasn't tried to change the formula that was used on the first album, except for the fact that there are no ballads included. There are some guest vocalists dueting with the girls (Göran Edman, Bob Harris and Mikael Erlandsson) and top AOR session guys like Tommy Denander and Eric Ragno provide some of the instrumentation, just like on the first album. And just like on the first album, Slama's songs are melodic and nice, even though some of his lyrics and vocal melodies still sound disturbingly clumsy to my ears. There's just too many words! The production sounds slightly better than on the first album, but at times it's a bit sterile.
The first few songs are among my favourites, especially "Web Of Lies" and the title track, but towards the end the quality starts to fall. Take "The Scarlet Nymph" for example - I don't know if the idea was to have a bit of a quirky Stevie Nicks-vibe in the chorus, but it doesn't work at all. The raspy vibrato sounds just out of tune and out of place and the wailing backing vocal adlibs don't help either.
Some of things I've written above might sound a bit negative, but in the end there's quite a lot to like here: the girls have nice voices, the songs are mostly quite good and I like the harder-edged, more uptempo style. I won't rate it over the debut but it's not weaker either. Now let's see whether these songs pop up on Slama's next AOR (the band) release...