Album review: CHEZ KANE

CHEZ KANE- S/T

Frontiers Records [Release Date 12.03.21]

Chez Kane is one of three sisters fronting Kane’d, who have gained a reputation pre-pandemic as an enjoyable live act. This is her debut solo album, though equal uncredited billing goes to Danny Rexon, lead singer of Swedish glamsters  Crazy Lixx, themselves no strangers to melodic hooks.  He plays all instruments,  writes the songs and produces the album.

The project ,right down to the cover artwork poses, was to make an album that captures the unashamed spirit of the eighties, a time that both are too young to remember but when the likes of Vixen, Lita Ford, and Fiona broke heavy rock’s all-male dominance, building on the trailblazing work of Pat Benatar and Heart, and Kerrang’s ‘ladykillers’ posters decorated many of us teenage metallers teenage bedrooms.

‘Better Than Love’ is a fine opener, pure AOR with Chez’s pleasant tones calling to mind Sandi Saraya and  Robin Beck yet retaining the distinct lilt of her native Wales. A further touch of class is provided by a cool sax solo, drawing comparison with Quarterflash.

The opening four songs include a couple of disappointments-‘All Of It’ is uninspiringly repetitive,  not to say derivative of Queen’s ‘I Want It All’ and ‘Get It On’ is poppier, almost danceable and there isn’t too much of a jump to Belinda Carlisle or even a Stock Aitken Waterman confection.

However these are more than made up for a couple of glorious tunes that were released as teasers for the album:  the Vixen-ish ‘Rocket on the Radio’ sees her voice soaring in gutsy fashion on a huge chorus that is uncannily close to Blue Tears’ near namesake,  and ‘Too Late for Love’ with the stabbing keyboard intro reminding me of ‘Cryin’ by Vixen- it opens with a huge chorus, and the song  is in the mould as Brigade-eras Heart or Witness (the gold standard for female-fronted albums).

The one aspect where I had to take a deep breath was the rather processed sounding instrumentation, in particular an annoying and rather tinny drum sound, but that is less of a problem with the songs placing such an emphasis on hooks, and, being charitable, that perhaps adds to the eighties vibe.  The melodic vocals and guitar sound of  ‘Defender of the Heart’ is one in particular to be undermined by demo-like production.

‘Ball and Chain’ could not be more of a pastiche of Desmond Child’s hit songbook from the moment it begins with the chorus shouted out before a guitar break and the trademark ‘na-na’s,  but the results are glorious, for me anyway.

‘Midnight Rendezvous’ is a more out and out rocker before an impressive closing duo:  ‘Die in the Name of Love’ – the only album with a writing co-credit, from another Scandinavian master of retro AOR sounds in Michael Palace- boasts very 80’s style keyboards, both in the intro and supporting the chorus, and excellent guitar work, while ‘Dead End Street’ is a classy end to the album with glorious melodic hooks, smoothly sung with a touch of Pat Benatar and more sax sounds on the outro. Indeed by the third listening it had overtaken the more instant songs as my favourite on the album.

In the present melodic rock world there is a surprising shortage of new acts emerging, Issa apart, to match those female trailblazers, which may be why this album has generated such a buzz. It may be a pastiche and uneven in places but with hooks that very effectively hark back to those days and lodge in your brain, the twin creators have accomplished their mission. Hearing these anthems belted out live is something to look forward to in a post-vaccine world!  ****

Review by Andy Nathan


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