Album review: BLACK SWAN – Shake The World

BLACK SWAN - Shake The World

Frontiers [Release date 14.02.20]

You have to say (again) that Frontiers knows how to put a band together, in this case Black Swan. Here are four musicians – Robin McAuley, Jeff Pilson, Reb Beach and Matt Starr – whose well documented CVs point to peak professionalism. All of these guys can nail down a sound or a musical concept with clarity, vision and style. And with Robin McAuley they have one of rock’s premier vocalists and, clearly, he’s still got it.

They put this album together via long distance hot-housing, growing musical ideas until they blossomed into fully formed songs. And so, there’s an abundance of richly melodic twists and ear-catching hooks here. It’s all good, but some tracks stand head and shoulders above the others, so let’s focus on them.

The heavily rhythmic ‘Big Disaster’, punctuated by a shotgun riff, is a peach. You could drool over the clean, gang vocal choruses and Beach’s razoring, get-in-quick-and-out-again axe soloing, but it’s drummer, Matt Starr who is the hero of the hour. His heavy, percussive thump drives this track along with metronome like precision, showing off Pilson’s full fat production.

The big and beautiful ‘Immortal Souls’ isn’t too far behind. Its pumped up, towering edifice of a chorus simply soars, sparking like a Chinese firework. As does the more subdued ‘Make It There’. A spiritual echo of the Alias classic, ‘Waiting For Love’, it adds muscle and heft to that perfect eighties’ AOR blueprint, reliving the drama and the romanticism of the genre.

But the real standout on this album is ‘Sacred Place’. It is a stunning melodic rock song, with an urbanity of tone and texture you don’t often find in popular music, never mind AOR. It cleverly marries a heartstopping hook to a simple “love story” lyric that assiduously avoids sentimentality, largely thanks to McAuley’s convincing delivery. Starr, Beach and Pilson tear it up in the middle section, just to provide framing for what came before and what goes after. God knows why this track is buried in the back half of the album.

We’ve focused on the best stuff, but the not-quite-the-best-stuff isn’t far behind. ****1/2

Review by Brian McGowan

The latest Josh Taerk live session was streamed on Sunday 26 September. This marked the start of a new monthly series. Josh’s next session is Sunday 31 October.

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 26 September 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at for that week.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020 and 2021 Finalist) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 28 September 2021.

How to Listen Live?

Click the programming image at the top of the page (top right of page if using desktop)

Listen via Windows Media Player. Click or tap here and “open file”
Listen via other media player (eg. VLC) Click or tap here and “open file”

Get Ready to ROCK! Radio is also in iTunes under Internet Radio/Classic Rock
Listen in via the Tunein app and search for “Get Ready to ROCK!” and save as favourite.

More information and links at our radio website where you can listen again to shows via the presenter pages:

Featured Albums w/c 18 October 2021 (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 TAO Prophecy (Tarot Label Media)
12:00-13:00 LEVERAGE Above The Beyond (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 JOE TILSTON Tightrope (Our Records)

Power Plays w/c 18 October 2021 (Mon-Fri)

ABOVE SNAKES Nothing To Lose (indie)
FRANKIE AND THE WITCH FINGERS Cookin’ (Greenway Records)
LEADFINGER The Fall Of Rome (Golden Robot)
FEMEGADES Stealing Numbers (Regent Street Records)
TIGERSIDE Any Contact (indie)
INDYA Love Like Champagne (indie)
EDGE OF DESTINY Forsaken (indie)

Popular (last 30 days)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in ALBUM REVIEWS, ALBUM REVIEWS (Mobile), ALL POSTS and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply