|China Blue Twilight Of Destiny||Frontiers Records|
Mr. Everywhere keyboardist Eric Ragno appears again on another fine melodic release. But rather than just appearing, this is Eric's baby, with him involved in the planning and execution of the album's grand plan and co-writing the songs along the way. Hell, he even produced it with JK Northrup mixing.|
The China Blue path has been a varied one over the years and even with the last piece of the puzzle added (vocalist Tony Mills) it wasn't plain sailing to get a release.
But that day has come and for fans of all those involved there are pay-offs here.
For fans of great melodic songwriting there is plenty to enjoy here with some fine songs on offer. Not your average AOR fare by any means, these songs are a little more challenging and absorbing and take repeat listens to get to know.
For fans of Tony Mills, here is an album that showcases his talents in the best possible light intelligent AOR with soaring harmonies and thankfully no tango inspired ditties to confuse things. For fans of Josh Ramos you get more Journey-esque lead breaks and some naturally appealing solos and riff driven songs.
And for fans of Eric plenty of swirling keyboards and piano fills and some truly interesting musical arrangements. Doug Odell and Zane Petersen provide a muscle bound rhythm section that gives the songs the power they deserve.
So not your average AOR release here there are layers of music to unravel as you go and the whole record has this moody vibe that gives it a certain intensity and a sense of the unexplored creatively speaking.
And with that go some songs that aren't your usual hook/chorus format. Some of these songs are far from instant, but that's why repeat listens are required to get to know everything within.
Of the more instant tracks are the epic opening What Do You Need But Love, delivering a caustic lyric wrapped in a memorable chorus; the more straight forward anthemic I Feel Like Dying and Changing Ways; the Journeyesque ballad Don't Be A Stranger and the uptempo Take Me As I Am.
The more challenging aspect of the album is portrayed through songs like the very melodic So Wrong (great musicianship here), Crimes Of Passion and the breezy Passions.
The Last Goodbye is also a fabulous instrumental featuring Josh and Eric doing their thing together. I'd like to hear more of that
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