Charming Grace – Charming Grace

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Review by Woody

Avenue Of Allies

Charming Grace is a project put together by songwriter Pierpaolo Monti (Shining Line) and singer Davide Barbieri (Wheels of Fire). The concept was to create a traditional melodic rock album with a duet with Davide on every song, so this album contains a lot of guest musicians and vocalists. Some of the real shock duets include David Forbes of Boulevard, Bente Smaavik of Blonde on Blonde and Henrik Launbjerg of Toys of Joy.

It’s a classy collection of well-written traditional melodic rock with some stellar guest performances. It is unashamedly old school and it’s instantly memorable and has a really cool summertime vibe to the entire album. The album is a real labour of love for Pierpaolo and Davide and their passion for this genre of rock overwhelms every single track which has been lovingly crafted in a traditional melodic rock mould.

I have to admit when I heard the concept behind the album was to have it full of duets I was a little sceptical thinking the album could seem disjointed and too mixed up to have an impact. Thankfully, I was very wrong and all the duets have been composed really well to keep an overall identity which keeps the album flowing nicely and all the duets are blended really well to complement and enhance every track.

I became a big fan of Pierpaolo’s song-writing style and lyrics with his Shining Line project and he doesn’t disappoint here. In my interview with him, he admitted that he had received some criticisms for his phrasing in the past. Lyrics in the world of AOR have always received a lot of criticism for being cheesy and full of clichés, but I actually find Pierpaolo’s lyrics far more poetic and relatable than many of the big names of the genre. He oes try to make his lyrics as emotional and passionate as he can and it’s that passion that connects with me.

The album actually opens with one of my favourite songs of the year, the sing-along beauty ‘Everytime You Touch My Heart’, a collaboration with the guys from VEGA. Nick’s vocals compliment the song stunningly and Tom’s guitars are recognizable and enjoyable and a nice little piano solo from James is rather awesome. This song is the epitome of AOR!

It may be a bonus track but the cover of Belinda Carlisle’s ‘Leave a Light On’ is another highlight for me. I like guest vocalist Aure’s voice and she really suits this beefed up version of the song. The deeply emotional ‘Through The Stars’, ‘The Sound Of Your Heart’ and ‘The Way You Feel Inside’ are also tracks that genre fans must check out.

Charming Grace haven’t reinvented the wheel here, but this is thoroughly enjoyable soft rock album with some killer choruses and memorable songs that will stick with you for a long time. This has to be a must for all AOR aficionados.

Charming Grace9 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. Everytime You Touch My Heart
  2. The Way You Feel Inside
  3. Shining Light
  4. Just Take My Hand
  5. Close Your Eyes
  6. Still Dreamin’
  7. The Sound Of Your Heart
  8. Everybody’s Broken
  9. The Answer Was You
  10. Run Away
  11. Through The Stars
  12. Endless Flame
  13. Bring My Life Back
  14. Leave A Light On

 

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