Escape Music [Release Date 24.02.14]
Few can keep up with the prolific form of Steve Overland. The man with the golden tonsils has kept up a steady stream of releases whether with the reformed FM, Shadowman, The Ladder or under his own name. By my reckoning there have been at least 12 in the past decade and hot on the heels of FM releasing two albums last year, he is back with a third solo album.
As a bonus this sees him collaborating with a stellar cast of musicians most notably Mike Slamer, a god-like figure in melodic rock circles not just as a member of Streets, Steelhouse Lane and Seventh Key but for his sonically clinical production skills which are in evidence here. Christian Wolff plays some tasty solos not far removed from Steve’s FM colleague Jim Kirkpatrick and is one of the main co- songwriters with Tor Talle.
The opening cut Radio Radio has a bright, shimmering feel with the nostalgic lyrics that have featured heavily in recent FM releases, but is eclipsed by If Looks Could Kill and Stranded with their big, hook-filled choruses. When the latter also manages to rhyme Loneliness and Wilderness, you know you are in classic ‘loved and lost’ AOR lyrical territory.
The overall effect of the album is close in style to FM’s classic ‘Indiscreet’ debut album. Down Comes the Night, If Your Hearts Not In it and So this is Love all have irresistible choruses, Steve’s soulful urgings rounded out by cleverly placed backing vocals.
The only downside is a slight lack of variation in pace, although Rags To Riches has a more up front guitar sound and a more urgent pace, and Rock Me shows off his bluesier influences. The final track, Time For Letting Go, its chorus bouncing along on a wave of keyboards as if life was stuck in 1985, is perhaps the finest moment.
Everything this Norfolk singer touches turns to gold in my book, and this feels like his most satisfying solo effort yet. There won’t be many better albums of pure old-school AOR this year. **** 1/2
Review by Andy Nathan
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