AOR Records [Release date 14.06.13]
I think producer Frederic Slama compromised Chasing Violets’ debut album ‘Outside Heaven’ (2012) by re-using the songs (and the backing tracks) for his own project album ‘LA Temptation’.
Slama is a respected LA-based AOR mover and shaker but I have to say – regardless of that blatant recycling – his writing and production is still the weak link here. The Fontaine sisters look lovely but there is still an issue with their vocals and delivery against somewhat trite play-it-by-numbers session tracks.
The opener ‘The Main Attraction’ – which should arguably be one of the strongest offerings to hook in the jaded listener – is a case in point. The rockier approach we were promised is more like a semi-Eurovision sing-a-long and somewhat vapid. ‘Web Of Lies’ is more of the same. There is an extended guitar play-out but the mix is very flat and the metronomic drums and rhythm guitar far too lightweight.
And as we said about the debut, having Melissa and Sarah sharing the vocals (that is, duetting on each track) doesn’t really work when one is evidently stronger than the other (Melissa?). Maybe to compensate – depending on your viewpoint – several male vocalists have been retained for this album including Goran Edman and Paul Sabu.
There is an almighty holler at the start of ‘A Shot In The Dark’ as if to tell the world that the girls can do rawk but it soon becomes the same old lightweight ear candy. And a song like ‘Silent Victory’ re-purposes the opener’s hackneyed rhythm track whilst reprising the spirit of ‘You’re My Obsession’ on the girls’ debut album. This is very lazy songwriting. Oh and by the way, ‘Silent Victory’ was on Slama’s LA Temptation album so the recycling goes on.
The song ‘Jade Hearts’ – the title track dammit – sums up everything that is wrong with this album, it really does sound like the girls are down their local wine bar with some cod-Journey backing tracks on the karaoke machine.
Part of the problem is, again, the songwriting and the soft production values. If the girls wanted to make this sound rockier surely they would have asked Slama to beef up those guitars and toughen up another limp, stereotypical, AOR mix? My guess is that they are in awe of their mentor and not a bad word is spoken.
But, if you want to really understand what I am on about just take a listen to the 7 minute (yes 7-minute) ‘The Scarlet Nymph’. I rest my case.
Naturally, the press handout trumpets: ‘Jade Hearts is the perfect illustration of what pure AOR is all about’. Er, right. The sad truth is – like the debut – I am sure this album will be greeted with open arms amongst the AOR fraternity (and probably with open trousers when some males view the album cover), but not even a seasoned, AOR veteran like the redoubtable Tommy Denander can rescue this one. **
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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