Release date : 25 Jan 2016
Review by Brian McGowan
An ungracious man might say that, at worst, the prolific Phil Vincent’s albums are interchangeable. A modern day philosopher might say that, at their best, they are emblematic of an era that refuses to die. Vincent is clearly not the only contemporary artist with this aim, but whether it be his solo stuff, or with his bands Legion or in this case,Tragik, few are as driven or as single minded.
The problem with all the Journey/Foreigner/Survivor wannabes that inflict themselves upon us is that they bring absolutely nothing new to the table. They are usually obvious counterfeits. In his earlier incarnations, Vincent just might have attracted that accusation. But now, things have changed. Tragik’s sixth album bursts with a different kind of energy. Vincent has laboured for many years in the shadow of the great AOR originals, but that long apprenticeship is now yielding the kind of results that stand on their own two feet. The evidence is a batch of finely crafted songs, brimming with memorable melodies. Vincent turns it all – like the tautly stretched ‘Where Would I Be’ (a song that suddenly launches into an MOR chorus) and the appealingly plaintive ‘Someone’s Gonna Hurt You’ – into performance art, passionate, powerful. And on ‘You Are The One’ and ‘When The Darkness Falls’, he clearly knows how to do intimate too.
It’s no surprise that the music is derivative still – show me something that isn’t – so the real trick is in merging the past with the present. Vincent gets huge help from lead guitar guests Vince O’Regan and Peter Cox. To say their solos are perfectly pitched and beautifully measured suggests cold precision. That would be wrong. Both temper their axework in the heat of Vincent’s emotive, compelling delivery, adding a calculated bite and a metrical sting to his sweetly sturdy melodies, carrying their share of the load, creating light and shade. It would be difficult to overestimate their contribution.
‘Feed My Soul’ shifts the tone: It’s a long, deep rock’n’roll exhale from Vincent as he draws on AOR and grown up powerpop to stamp his songwriting authority on the music. ‘Smokin Gun’ and ‘Rescue Me – Rise To The Sun’ continue what at times seems to be a journey of exploration, here examining progrock to determine what it can add to the songs’ swirling melodic rock cadences.
And oh yes, the cover art. It’s pretty obvious that the model’s coquettish pose is undone by her pneumatic boobs and her obvious facial surgery. So it has to be “post melodic rock irony”, right?
(My purely aesthetic judgement would be that the blonde on the back artwork should have been on the front cover. But hey, what do I know?)
So put aside the titillation and the mildly irritating sexism, and consider what Phil Vincent (with a little help from his friends) has done here. He’s been circling his melodic rock prey/prize for years, ‘Come And Get It’ confirms he’s now closing in fast.
8 out of 10
- Where Would I Be
- Fallen Angel
- You Are The One
- Feed My Soul
- Smokin Gun
- Rescue Me – Rise To The Sun
- Someone’s Gonna Hurt You
- Can’t Slow Down
- When Darkness Falls
- Closer To The Sun
- No Words