Frontiers Records [Release date 12.06.20]
Many critics have gone to print noting the inconsistency of the reformed House Of Lord’s 21st century releases. Maybe that would explain why James Christian (vocals/production) has brought in Mark Spiro and Tommy Denander to collaborate on the songwriting. Though you have to say that the Jimi Bell/Jeff Kent writing axis impressed on the last couple of releases.
A few songs open out quickly onto a familiar landscape. The picks of these are period pieces, ‘One More’ and ‘The Both Of Us’. Each is worked up from a simple tune into no-frills, muscled up melodic hard rock, with the “best before 1989” labels removed.
Others here take a little longer to unlock, but once you open the door and step inside it’s well worth the effort. There are echoes of sixties’ protest songs in ‘Change, Whats It Gonna Take’ and ‘New World’. They are not quite so lyrically pointed or as challenging as Dennis DeYoung’s recent reflections on the current state of world affairs, but musically, not launching the declamatory chorus until we are two and half minutes into ‘New World’ is quite daring. And it works a treat. The ultra processed backing vocals give it additional heft.
Christian makes the arrangements and production work even harder on ‘New World’, flavouring it with southern rock, then hanging it out on the edge of a riff sourced from somewhere west of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Kashmir’.
Then the album takes a striking and emphatic turn with ‘Perfectly, Just You And I’ and ‘We’re All That We’ve Got’. The first is a fresh faced ballad, a kind of country rock hybrid. Christian shows an ear for fine textural detail here, having his lead vocal shadowed by background harmonies, adding depth and indeed, an old fashioned romanticism to an elegant rock song.
The second mixes up standard melodic rock ingredients – a heavy percussive thump, cascading keyboards and tough as teak guitars – with philosophical lyrics, beatifully handled by Christian’s mournful yet ultimately triumphal vocals.
These latter two tracks bring to mind Dave Reynolds’ immortal catchphrase. … “worth buying the cliché for.” ****
Review by Brian McGowan
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Featured Albums w/c 22 February 2021 (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 RADAR Lost In The Atlantic (Escape Music)
12:00-13:00 DURBIN The Beast Awakens (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN – The Darkest Days Are The Brightest (InsideOut Music)
Power Plays w/c 22 February 2021 (Mon-Fri)
DEAD REYNOLDS Bright Lights
ALLY VENABLE Road To Nowhere
JASON SWEENEY She’s A Fighter
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