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Melodic Rock Round-up: July 2013

Album Review

Dave Ling on new releases from Charming Grace, Amaze Me, Stala & So, Fair Warning and Chasing Violets

Charming Grace: Charming Grace

It’s worrisome when an act models an album upon an iconic era of musical history, in this case the melodic hard rock of the 1980s – doubly so when each song is a duet. Formed by members of Lionville, Shining Line and Wheels Of Fire, Italy’s Charming Grace have defied the odds to create a debut that has little problem in overturning such scepticism. Davide ‘Dave Rox’ Barbieri is charged with holding things together vocally, but from the opening notes of Every Time You Touch My Heart, which sees the Wheels Of Fire frontman standing toe to toe with Nick Workman of Vega, Barbieri delivers with gusto and quality. As the vocal booth fills with members of Lionville, Boulevard, The Michael Thompson Band, Urban Tale and others, the listener is whisked back to the days of bubble perms and spandex. Covers of Everybody’s Broken (not strictly appropriate chronologically as it appeared on Bon Jovi’s Lost Highway in 2007) and Leave A Light On by Belinda Carlisle enhance the whiff of nostalgia. So is there a follow-up left in the concept? Probably not, but this is fun all the same. (8/10)

Amaze Me: Guilty As Sin

A duo comprising vocalist Conny Lind and multi-instrumentalist Peter Broman, Amaze Me are a stereotypical yet highly effective Scandi-AOR outfit. Though they offer precious little in the way of surprises or innovation on Guilty As Sin, it’s still hard to suppress a smile when Lind leans into the microphone during Everybody and purrs: ‘Show me your love, girl.’ (7/10)

Stala & So: Play Another Round

Featuring a former member of Lordi in the shape of drummer-turned-vocalist Stala, these Finns have also represented their homeland in the Eurovision Song Contest. Combining a crisp, upbeat delivery with memorable hooks, songs such as Tokyo Delights, The Boys Are Having Fun and All She Wrote are pretty irresistible. (7/10)

Fair Warning: Sundancer

Its title a deliberate nod to 1995’s breakthrough album Rainmaker, Sundancer is the seventh studio release from a group formed by erstwhile V2 vocalist Tommy Heart and ex-Zeno bassist Ule Ritgen. Throughout this album, Fair Warning’s class is both clear and undeniable, from the tightly controlled zest of Keep It In The Dark to Jealous Heart’s seductive smoothness. (8/10)

Chasing Violets: Jade Hearts

This second album from the frighteningly young French sisters Sarah and Mélissa Fontaine was again composed, produced and masterminded by Frédéric Slama of the band AOR and features another plethora of special guests. It’s easy to be cynical about motives here, but both the music and the vocal performances on Jade Hearts are a cut above the norm. (7/10)

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