‘Secret Love’ is an absolutely stunning album of urbane westcoast rock, the second release from Swedish band, Crossfade. It’s underwritten by musicians of flair and skill, none better known than the mighty Goran Edman, a truly accomplished rock vocalist who’s sung lead for bands as diverse as Malmsteen and Street Talk, Karma and Brazen Abbott (and personal favourite, Glory).
Unlike so much material in this genre, which takes too long to reach something that never happens, there is always a musical or lyrical payoff (and sometimes both) to Crossfade’s songs. Even on the fabulously lethargic ‘Brave New World’, you can sense a powerful, pounding pulse, building to an understated crescendo, weighted with a sinuous hook.
The title track, ‘Secret Love’ and ‘Don’t Ask Me Why’ show a deep rooted love of the genre, recalling Chicago and Boz Scaggs without being overly derivative. The latter’s slung back blues and loose rhythms on the chorus catch you nicely by surprise.
The album’s opener, ‘A Wonderful Illusion’ and ‘Closer To The Fire’ are unarguably the album’s picks. Carefully crafted tracks that underline everything that is good about westcoast music. Both tip their hat to Toto and, shock horror, the first gives a knowing nod to Led Zeppelin on a robustly constructed middle section. While on the second, this section is almost a piece of music in its own right, constantly shifting its viewpoint and full of unexpected, but intensely gratifying chord progressions.
Thankfully, Crossfade don’t succumb to the to the saminess or pale imitation syndromes that afflicts so many bands in this genre. The bewitching closing track, ‘In My Mind’ will finally remind you why great albums need great performances, great songwriting and great production.