Balance is the fourth album from Ex- At Vance vocalist Hartmann and too be honest I’ve never been impressed with his previous solo output. Maybe it was too modern sounding, too contemporary or maybe the songs just didn’t resonate with me. Hartmann does have a strong following though and has gathered many fans with his solo works. So I bunged this one in my CD player not expecting much from it.
So this damn fine album took me by total surprise from the opening track to the dying moments of the last! It’s a strong collection of guitar driven melodic rock with a fantastic uplifting attitude. Lyrically this does make some of the songs feel bittersweet, but there is a feel good sound to the music and I can see myself beer in hand watching the sun go down in the late summer evening with a big satisfied smile on my face with Balance providing the soundtrack to my moment!
Yes those contemporary aspects to Hartmann’s song writing are still ever present, I think this time though the songs are of a much higher quality and really grab my attention. One of the biggest positives I can spout about this album is that the album as a whole is very enjoyable.
There is a real depth to the song arrangements which has hooks everywhere from harmony vocals and guitar licks and everything in between that gives the songs enveloping warmth. Hartmann has really pulled out all the stops on here balancing crunching guitars perfectly with catchy melodies.
The album kick starts with anthemic rocker ‘All My Life’ which has a great rocking energy which is a kick ass start to the album with its killer guitar hooks. ‘Like A River’ has a killer chorus with stunning vocals from Hartmann and excellent hook filled harmonies. It’s a fantastic rocker which has a slight modern edge. My favourite track is the summer soaked ‘You’re The One’ which is an instant sing along beauty. I love the guitar licks on this feel good tune.
‘Fool For You’ is a groove driven rocker with a huge blues tinged driving chorus. Blues tinged ballad ‘After The Love Has Gone’ will hit all the right spots with ballad lovers, very mean and moody. ‘Save Me’ has a catchy as hell guitar riff and a soaring chorus packed with power. It’s a song with instant hooks and demands repeat plays and that you sing along!
Atmospheric rocker ‘Fall From Grace’ has a laid back attitude and ethereal feel to it. ‘From A Star’ is a ballad with an intense and memorable chorus. There is some awesome guitar work on this track and I love the ambience this song evokes. ‘Dance On The Wire’ is an acoustic driven mid-tempo rocker with a great swagger to it.
Hartmann pulls of a fantastically rambunctious cover of Tears For Fear’s ‘Shout’. I have to admit this track is gobsmackingly stunning and is sure to be destined to be a dance floor filling sing along classic. ‘Time To Face The Truth’ has a great guitar riff which flows down the spine of this song and perfectly through this beautiful summer infused ballad. It has a wonderfully uplifting sound although that said the lyrics do make it somewhat bittersweet. Some great use of vocal harmonies closes the songs out. ‘The Best Is Yet To Come’ is another atmospheric and evocative ballad filled with stunning musicianship and strong vocals.
A Stunningly good album with a feel good vibe I love and songs that demand to be played over and over at ear damagingly loud volume. So do yourself a favour and pick this one up and crank it right up!
Rated 9 out of 10