Release Date 17.05.19
First Signal was conceived some years back as a vehicle to reunite Harem Scarem singer Harry Hess with the pure melodic rock style that arguably began and ended with the Canadians’ debut album, before they diversified into a less predictable direction.
But now, at the time of this third album, the challenge has been set higher to produce something distinctive and value adding, given that his parent band’s hot streak since reforming has culminated in their most mainstream album in many a year, 2017’s ‘United’.
Any doubts are dispelled by the opener ‘Born to be a Rebel’, a classic up-tempo melodic rock anthem with the bridge having hooks that would grace most songs by themselves and an equally strong chorus, even if the lyrics are a tad clichéd.
It is Harry’s sole co-write of the album with fellow Canuck Stan Messner. The latter- one of those veteran cult names whispered by AOR anoraks- also supplies two of the other top tracks in ‘Walk Through the Fire’, which I remember from a Carl Dixon solo album, and ‘Never Look Back’ with more massive hooks.
However it is the vibrant Scandinavian scene that supplies most of the tracks, and second song in ‘A Million Miles’ has a chorus with that classic Scandi melodic feel. There are also a couple of lush ballads in ‘The Last of My Broken Hearts’ and ‘Here With You’. Harry’s vocals are immaculate as ever and well supported by HS bandmate Darren Smith.
First Signal mainman Daniel Flores has a reputation for rather too keyboard-heavy projects but on this occasion they are more in balance with the guitars, some of the solos from Michael Palace being quite superb.
After a mid album dip with the title track sounding rather flat, it finishes on a high note with three more up tempo songs. ‘Need You Now’ and ‘The End of the World’ are sandwiched by one of the album’s highlights in the naggingly familiar ‘Falling’, with Nigel Bailey’s songwriting contribution doing the UK proud.
I am not normally a fan of these studio projects, but repeated listenings have turned this one into a favourite. It hangs together well and is something of a showcase for worldwide melodic rock talent at its finest.
Review by Andy Nathan
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