Review by Kimmo Toivonen
It’s no secret that I rate Kent Hilli as one of the best singers to have emerged during the last few years. His work with his main band Perfect Plan has been stellar. Their last year’s ”Time For A Miracle” was one of the best releases of 2000’s, and I loved their cover EP, on which Hilli really shined.
For his solo album, Kent Hilli has teamed up with Swedish AOR maestro Michael Palace, who has co-written most of the songs with him and produced the album. They’ve put together a great collection of traditional melodic rock songs with rich production and beautiful melodies.
When someone creates a solo album it’s usually because there’s material that wouldn’t suit the main band. That’s not really the case with these songs, they would’ve been excellent Perfect Plan songs just as well. Maybe it’s a case of Kent Hilli wanting to work with different people. It doesn’t really matter, I’m just happy to hear these songs!
The title track is a perfect opener: a massive melodic rocker in the vein of your favourite 80’s soundtracks like Rocky IV or Top Gun, yet it’s not a desperate attempt to re-write ”Burning Heart” or ”Danger Zone”. The moodier ”Cold” is another favourite with its’ superb, gigantic chorus. ”All For Love” is a nice song, but maybe a bit too ”AOR by numbers” mid-tempo track..
I’ve always been a sucker for staccato keyboard intros, and I can’t help but like ”I Can’t Wait”. Especially when the writers have thrown a couple of different choruses to it, as if they had too many of them! The first one is pretty traditional Journeyesque one, while the second is an anthemic one with ”Whoa’s” and clever background vocals.
”Don’t Say It’s Forever” reminds me of Foreigner at their best, and the hook is AOR perfection. Great backing vocal arrangement again and athmospheric keyboards. Definitely one of the best tracks.
A bluesy lick and a throaty ”allright” kicks off ”Miss Up To No Good”. This very Giant-like rocker is harder edged that most of the other tracks, but it only adds variety to the album. ”Heaven Can Wait” is classy ballad written by Kent and Tina Hilli, possibly his wife?
”Does It Feel Like Love” is the one song where I think I hear Michael Palace’s songwriting shining through the most, but it’s definitely not a bad thing. The song has a certain cool swagger!
”Love Can Last Forever” is another nice song, not necessarily one of my favourites but not skippable either. ”Never Be Mine” had me checking out the credits for a possible Jeff Paris connection, it sounds so much like something off his ”Wired Up” or ”Lucky This Time” albums. No such connection, it’s a Hilli/Palace original.
The Big Book of AOR says ”that an album should be closed with a big ballad”. Hilli & Palace have followed this golden rule with ”Still In Love”, an epic ballad that would have been a hit for Foreigner, Giant or Europe in 1989. Now it will be a hit for Kent Hilli, although maybe on a ”slightly” smaller scale… at least it’s one of the many hits from this album on my personal list.