Frontiers [Release date 13.05.16]
A matter of weeks after some erstwhile bandmates produced one of the albums of the year with the Defiants, Danger Danger singer Ted Poley responds with his own latest solo album.
A solo album is usually a window into the influences of a band member they have to keep in check during their day job and in this case the style certainly showcases his love of AOR. He is surely singing better than ever, in a more smooth and restrained fashion.
However the term solo album is slightly misleading – he played no part in the writing, with the prolific songwriting team of Vega brothers Tom and James Martin contributing all but one song (the Bon Jovial choruses of the Joe Lynn Turner co-write ‘Hands of Time’, originally recorded by Blonz). Meantime the music is provided by what seems to be Frontiers in-house team of Italian players led by the prolific Alessandro Del Vecchio.
It is a fair bet that the brief was to create a Journey-esque sound and opener ‘Lets Start Something’ certainly does that, smooth and uptempo even if a tad close to ‘Be Good to Yourself’ and being one of two songs to include a ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ reference. ‘Everything We Are’ is distinguished by lush backing vocals and chanteuse Issa duets in a slightly Stevie Nicks-sounding way on the pleasant ‘Perfect Crime’.
However not only are the lyrics rather schmaltzy and clichéd, ‘flames getting higher’ and all that, but they start to repeat themselves with two songs in a row referencing ‘burning bright like stars’, not to mention a third song being entitled ‘Beneath The Stars’. Despite his cheeky poses on the CD booklet, little of the fun and innuendo of Ted’s usual personality come through .
On the bright side, the album could not be faulted for melody and there are some great guitar solos from Mario Percudani which come over as a cross between Neal Schon and Steve Lukather, notably on ‘You Won’t See Me Crying’ which also features some great layered vocals and ‘We Are Young’, where Ted sings in as low a register as I can remember. Meantime his guitar solo on ‘Sirens’ seems to reprise the melody from the Journey classic ‘Faithfully’.
In short, whilst accomplished, the album does feel a little by the numbers and I would have preferred something more organic. It is proof that even a musical form such as AOR which by its nature has a formula does not benefit from being created by committee. ***
Review by Andy Nathan
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