Review by Brian McGowan
A worthy follow up, hampered by a one-size-fits-all production, flattening out some classy songs and doing little to lift the AOR genre-conforming arrangements out of the ordinary.
Fortunately Stefano Lionetti’s song writing – faithfully adhering to the formula – remains strong, as do Lars Safsund’s sublime vocals (he occasionally sounds like Level 42‘s Mark King, giving his vocals a popfunk twang).
Bruce Gaitsch plays guitar and Bill Champlin handles guest lead vocals on one track, ‘Higher’, adding a veneer of Westcoast credibility to the album.
No radical reinventions or bold new experiments then.
In fact, the secret in creating this kind of homage to the great years of AOR and Westcoast Rock is in making it sound like everybody who was great, but to nobody in particular, otherwise it turns into parody or mimicry.
There’s only one that sounds like Toto, ‘All We Need’ and one that sounds like Richard Marx, ‘No Turning Back’. And that in itself is quite an achievement. The other 10 tracks take on an identity of their own, even if it is a little transparent at times.
That said, it’s a situation easily redeemed by ‘All This Time’ and ‘One In A Million’, where finely crafted choruses and an infectious sense of urgency lift the music out of the shallows, revealing rich melodic detail in among the uncluttered arrangements.
Redemption peaks with closing track, ‘Open Your Heart‘, which is arguably the album‘s standout cut. It gets under the skin of the genre, marrying a sweet melody to a melancholy mood on a suitably spare and seductive production. An itch you find constant pleasure in scratching.
Elsewhere ‘Next To Me’ and ’Shining Over Me’ fall foul of the genre’s most common criticism: it takes too long to reach something that never happens, and throughout this you sit there, losing patience.
You have to add though, the band does a great cover of Boy Meets Girl’s fabulous 80’s pop hit, ‘Waiting For A Star To Fall’, largely thanks to Mario Percudani‘s lyrical guitar work and Alessandro DelVecchio‘s punchy arrangement.
The Westcoast genre can often be thing of beauty and passion, music that stirs the blood without recourse to heavy riffs or declamatory vocals. But paradoxically, that only works when the framework is strong and the music compellingly dynamic.
Lionville show promise.
6 out of 10
- All We Need
- The Only Way Is Up
- Another Day
- No Turning Back
- All This Time
- Next To Me
- Waiting For A Star To Fall
- Don’t Walk Away
- One In A Million
- Shining Over Me
- Open Your Heart