Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Label: Escape 2014
Review by Kimmo Toivonen
Are you hoping that FM would return to the sound of their first two albums "Indiscreet" and "Tough It Out"? That might not happen, but this new album from the band's vocalist Steve Overland is the closest thing to those two classics I've heard. Steve's superb and soulful vocals, polished production by Mike Slamer and Christian Wolff, not to mention some of the best AOR songs I've heard lately... Yes, this is pretty damn "epic"!
The super-smooth "Radio Radio" opens the album and while it's not the song I would have picked as the first track, it's still very good. The slightly more edgy "If Looks Could Kill" could have been a better opening track. It sounds like it could've been sitting comfortably on the "Tough It Out" album next to "Bad Luck"... a superb chorus and fine guitar work. "Stranded" is another AOR monster of a song with another killer chorus - this album is sounding pretty good so far, right?
"Rags To Riches" is one of the songs more hard rockin' songs on the album. I don't have any credits but I guess it's one of Mike Slamer's songs - I hear echoes of Seventh Key in it. A decent song but not one of my favourites. The semi-balladic "Liberate My Heart" bridges the gap between then and now, I could imagine this one on a recent FM album and on a mainstream radio playlist.
Then, "Down Comes The Night"... as far as I'm concerned, AOR doesn't get much better than this: cool keys and guitars, great vocals and a chorus hook that catches you off guard. This is by far the most played track on my mp3 player during the last couple of weeks, really addictive. The Totoesque "If Your Heart's Not In It" is a good song too, but maybe it suffers a little of its' placement next to the previous song...
The bluesy "Rock Me" is one song that really doesn't do much for me, and lately I've been skipping it to get to the "good stuff", which in this case means "So This Is Love", an uptempo AOR gem with the kind of keyboard work I've always been a sucker for... the laid-back, midtempo "Wild" is a good one too, leading the way to the "epic" closing track "The End Of The Road", which again reminds me of Mike Slamer's work with Seventh Key and his own solo project Slamer.
So there... to be honest, although I rate Steve Overland really highly, I wasn't expecting this album to be this good. His previous projects outside FM have been decent enough, but nothing spectacular, and I was expecting this to be along the same lines. I'm glad to be wrong! Almost a five-R album, but maybe one killer track short of that.
PS. On some tracklistings for this album a song called "Time For Letting Go" is mentioned as the 12th track, but it's not on my promo version...