Frontiers [release date 19.05.14]
When the record label description uses the words “unique” and “jazz and blues-inspired” in the promotional material the alarm bells started ringing in my head. Blues I can live with but Jazz…
Neal Schön (what’s with the umlaut anyway…) pulls in fellow Journey man Deen Castronovo on drums and current Black Star Riders bassist Marco Mendoza for his latest solo outing “So U”. Unlike his previous Frontiers release album, “The Calling” back in 2012 this one has vocals which are shared between all three players.
The bluesy Take A Ride kicks things off but the song feels disjointed with no noticeable melody. Not an ideal start. Things do not improve with the nine minute plus title track So U…dodgy vocals, a weird spoken poem towards the end and the song itself meanders around going absolutely nowhere.
Instrumental Exotica is a laid back jazz instrumental with a Santana feel – as throughout the guitar playing cannot be faulted but where is the tune…
What You Want, On My Way and Shelter all sound like rejects from any recent Sammy Hagar solo album…straight ahead blues rockers complete with Hagar-like screams.
Best numbers on here are the Journey like numbers – Love Finds A Way is the typical Journey ballad and Serenity is the typical Journey rocky number (surely one of the Jack Blades co-writes) and best song on here!
Instrumental closer Big Ocean is another jazzy instrumental that does bring images of the ocean to mind as I drift off…
I’m sure that Neal enjoyed recording this but unfortunately I didn’t enjoy listening to it and very much doubt it will feature on any future playlists…now where is my Escape CD…
Review by Phil Berisford
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