Frontiers [Release date 09.08.19]
The reunion of Unruly Child’s classic line up with original singer Marcie Free, which began with 2010’s excellent ‘Worlds Collide’, has stood the test of time with its fourth album since then. Two years ago, try as I might, I just could not get into the west coast flavoured ‘Can’t Go Home’, so I approached this album with a degree of trepidation.
The opener ‘Living In Someone Else’s Dream’ is certainly a throwback to a more traditional AOR sound, combining hooks similar to those that graced the Signal album with a couple of Toto-isms and Marcie in great voice. But ‘All Over the World’ has a less conventional song structure and her vocals are more buried in the mix.
Despite some more up tempo moments in ‘Down And Dirty’ and ‘Dirty Little Girl’, the overall vibe is again mellow. That is not to say there isn’t much to appreciate.
‘Breaking The Chains’ gradually builds from its acoustic beginnings with a great sense of dynamics and ‘Are These Words Enough’ and ‘Will We Give Up Today’ boast arrangements lovingly crafted by guitarist Bruce Gowdy and keyboardist Guy Allison, the remaining core of the band, producers and co-songwriters with only the odd other writing credit.
‘The Harder They Will Fall’ (oddly introduced by an excerpt of Churchill’s ‘we shall fight’ speech nearly 35 years after Iron Maiden famously used it) boasts an extravagant mid-song synth solo and it is possible to envisage Guy with a huge grin on his face playing it. In contrast ‘Beneath A Steady Rain’ is a piano-led ballad harking back to early seventies singer-songwriter territory.
While I’m not totally sold on the more considered direction they have taken and would have preferred more up-tempo rockers in the mould of the opening song and closer ‘The Hard Way’ ,it is still a step in the right direction that bears repeated listening to appreciate the subtleties within. ***1/2
Review by Andy Nathan
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