Frontiers Records [Release Date 03.07.15]
After his shambolic display spoiled Baton Rouge’s long awaited Firefest appearance a couple of years back, I did wonder whether we would hear again from Kelly Keeling, but the respected singer whose husky, bluesy tones have graced a range of projects over the years is back with his first solo album in over a decade.
This is a strange one, pairing him with Frontiers’ all-Italian in-house musicians, led by keyboardist Alessandro Del Vecchio and guitarist Mario Percudani. The music is typically melodic with clean guitar solos and keyboards to the fore, and occasionally they go off mid-song into almost a Kansas or Seventh Key direction with some quite progressive sounds. However despite trying his best, Kelly’s sandpaper vocal style is completely unsuited to the musical backing, which lacks a bottom end and is spoiled by a singularly feeble drum sound.
It comes over as a very contrived and inauthentic studio project. Recording vocals and music on different continents is not unusual these days in such a scenario but on this occasion it is almost as if the two have been wrongly matched together. Only on ‘Sunshine Over Me’ and ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, both with a Joe Lynn Turner feel, does the combination really gel.
Yet among these disappointments are three excellent songs in ‘Written In Fire’, ‘Monkey House’ and ‘Who Do You Run To’. Co-written with Baton Rouge colleagues Jack Ponti and Lance Bulen, they sound like prime time Baton Rouge, very possibly being unreleased songs lying in the vaults and sonically very different from the rest of the album.
As with Ponti’s trademark work the production is meatier, the choruses more convincing and the big, rhythmic sound better suited to his voice. But it is a moot point whether they rescue the album or merely highlight that the rest of it does not work. **3/4
Review by Andy Nathan
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David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 14 March 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at www.getreadytorock.com for that week.
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Featured Albums w/c 5 April 2021 (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 GARY HUGHES Decades (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 METALITE A Virtual World (AFM Records)
14:00-16:00 KAT DANSER One Eye Open (indie)
Power Plays w/c 5 April 2021 (Mon-Fri)
ALTZI Point Of No Return (RA Music)
DIRTY LACES Breathe (Golden Robot Records)
ASHEN MOON Ashen Moon (Golden Robot Records)
ANDREWW Shadow Love (indie)
JORDAN RED Freak Show (indie)
HAYES & Y Empty Orchestra (indie)
KELSEY BOVEY Another World (indie)
NEPTUNE RAIN We Breathe The Same (indie)
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