Daughtry – Break The Spell Tour Edition 2012

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Review by Brian McGowan

Anyone remotely interested knows the Chris Daughtry story. He hasn’t done too badly for someone who didn’t even finish in the top three. His first two Daughtry-the-band albums did good business for him and for Sony. You can still sell rock music if the product is right. They’re on album three now, and in a not unfamiliar scenario, the band have wrested much of the songwriting responsibility away from A&R appointees, and done a lot of it themselves.

Howard Benson again handled production. A gracious man might see an experienced, skilled hand at the studio helm, guiding the band once more toward Top Forty success. Someone less charitable might make out a cynic’s fingers wrapped around the tiller, leading one more band to the exact same spot on the coalface of contemporary rock, looking to exploit the same rich seam as mined so unmercifully by giants of the genre, like Nickelback, Creed and Staind. It’s the latter view that stands up to scrutiny. Forensics show that Benson’s sanitised, post industrial production – mechanoid guitars, slapping rhythms and processed vocals – striving to create an inflated depth and meaning, only serves to underline just how shallow the music is.

Openers, ‘Renegade’ and ‘Crawling Back To You’ constantly and noisily stretch every muscle and every sinew, striving for that epic rock moment, to the extent it becomes tiring (and tiresome) after a while. Yet, when he ditches the machinery of genre, and tunes his arrangements and production into CD’s natural vocal abilities, then they create something quite special together. Put another way, when CD sings from the heart instead of force-fitting his voice to a Top Forty template, he makes an emotional connection with us. The music resonates, strikes a chord, and this works best on the upscale Country Rock of ‘Start Of Something’, ‘Crazy’ and ‘Spaceship’, particularly the first, a co-write with Brent James, Country’s songwriter du jour.

Further on, the title track, ‘Break The Spell’ and ‘Gone Too Soon’ excise the guitar clutter, previously prevalent, while cleverly combining contemporary rock’s vitality and immediacy with the sentimental heart of Country. This thrusts CD’s voice front and centre – where it should be – emoting gracefully and articulating yearningly. Elsewhere, buried deep in the chart fodder that litters ‘Break The Spell’ lurk a couple of little poprock gems. ‘Losing My Mind’ and ‘Louder Than Ever’ gleam spectacularly when exposed to the light, both relying on old fashioned virtues like an anticipatory bridge and a memorably melodic hook to make their mark.

At 18 tracks and 58 minutes, the album was already in need of judicious pruning prior to release. Adding a second CD, of 7 tracks and 26 minutes, despite the attractive music video and live cut content, seems like overkill, simply because it demands a sizeable investment of time, which many may not be of a mind to consider.

7 out of 10

Daughtry - Break The Spell Tour EditionTracklist:

  1. Renegade
  2. Crawling Back To You
  3. Outta My Head
  4. Start Of Something Good
  5. Crazy
  6. Break The Spell
  7. We’re Not Gonna Fall
  8. Gone Too Soon
  9. Losing My Mind
  10. Rescue Me
  11. Louder Than Ever
  12. Spaceship
  13. Who’s They
  14. Maybe We’re Already Gone
  15. Everything But Me
  16. Lullaby

TOUR EDITION DVD

  • OFFICIAL VIDEOS
  1. Crawling Back To You
  2. Outta My Head
  • LIVE PERFORMANCES
  1. Feels Like Tonight
  2. Outta My Head
  3. What About Now
  4. Home (Acoustic)
  5. Start Of Something Good