Frontiers [Release date 23.03.18]
They never made it back in the eighties, despite a big reputation in their native Northern Ireland, but No Hot Ashes have been festival favourites for the last few years and finally make it to an album release, albeit one tinged with sadness as founder member and bassist Paul Boyd has since passed away.
Compared to the generic ‘production line’ releases too often associated with the genre, there is a refreshingly homespun and individual feel to it, singer Eamon Nancarrow even drawing on his own family for lyrical inspiration in the personal songs, the ballad ‘Boulders’ and ‘Johnny Redhead’. Several lyrics also have a wistful nostalgia including ‘Good To Look Back’ where his vocal intonation has an intriguing touch of the Elton Johns.
The dominant musical style however is classic British AOR, pitched somewhere between FM and Shy, with an excellent balance between keyboards and melodic guitar solos. Indeed if you didn’t know otherwise, ‘I’m Back’ sounds like an undiscovered outtake from the latter’s ‘Excess All Areas’ album.
The opening song in ‘Come Alive’ is only the latest to draw its inspiration from the keyboard riff to Jefferson Starship’s ‘Jane’, while ‘Satisfied’ has a Little Angels-like swaggering groove and ‘Glow’ and ‘Over Again’ are a couple of other melodic rock goodies. The cover of Rick Springfield’s ‘Souls’ adds little to the original but fits in perfectly.
Not an essential purchase but the mixture of classic old-school AOR and the heartfelt lyrical sentiments make this a highly enjoyable listen and one the boys can be proud of. ****
Review by Andy Nathan
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