Mascot Records (Release date 21.01.13)
There is a lot to like about ‘Transition’ from the production quality, the sincerity, to the musicianship. The lyrical themes are again based on Luke’s recent musical and personal rejuvenation and in truth the album is edging towards the more spiritual and introspective of his works. What I am not too sure about is where all this leaves the listener?
There is little continuity from ‘All’s Well That’s Ends Well’ (except that it was also lyrically autobiographical). But whereas AWTEW was rockier, the latest album is more restrained and musically sees Luke in jazz fusion/west coast territory. Fans will say he’s never been far away from fusion so will probably not be too concerned. It is the shock that there is no ‘Darkness In My World’ or ‘Can’t Slow Down’ and, frankly, there is little humour.
If this is a transition to an ‘elder statesman’ of rock, please pass him the bath chair. And in truth there is a lack of incisive guitaring, with a fair quota of ballads that put him back more in prime Toto territory whereas I thought on the previous album he was breaking free of that band’s shackles. Only ‘Judgement Day’ and ‘Right The Wrong’ connect with that pretext.
The title track is a little strange too, mainly a fusion instrumental but with a few vocals. The vocals, however, are a high point throughout, an aspect that Luke has worked at in recent years and that diligence has paid off. And of course he has gathered round him the usual crack team of co-producer CJ Vanston and several session heavyweights in addition to his regular band members.
It’s a quality album for sure, but it only emphasises just how good (and varied) was its predecessor. If this is part of Luke’s continual healing process I don’t think the dear listener should have to share that pain in this most overt way. When masked by a few killer tracks that makes it more palatable, but there are no killer tracks here just very well played tunes… although all evidently straight from the heart. ***1/2
Review by David Randall
David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.
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