|Shooting Star Circles||Frontiers Records|
US melodic rockers Shooting Star return after way too long with a new studio album – minus one lead singer - but with an equally good one stepping into his shoes.|
Gary West and Keith Mitchell have both held the mike for the band, but in deciding to reform again now, the guys had to make an important choice. Who would best represent the new material and help the band move forward?
In my mind they could not have picked anyone better than AOR favourite Kevin Chalfant (The Storm / Two Fires). Kevin has one of those instantly likable voices and is perfectly suited to the melodic friendly material featured on this album. If anything, he takes the material to a new level and into a more AOR friendly area.
There is a natural earthy timbre to this album and the songs themselves are marvelous. The 10 tracks featured are thoroughly enjoyable and although varied, are held together by some strong performances by Kevin and guitarist Van McLain and some fine choruses. I don't hear any fillers in play at all.
The songs move from guitar driven Midwestern melodic rock (Runaway, Trouble In Paradise, Temptation) to straight AOR (Without Love, George's Song, What Love Is) via a little southern rock n roll (Everybody's Crazy), sometimes reflecting an 80s vibe and at other times a more timeless classic rock feel (Borrowed Time, I'm A Survivor – which features some shredding guitar work).
The only problem with this album is the production quality. It does these songs and the guys performing them, no favors whatsoever.
The whole album sounds very hollow and the mix is not at all consistent, varying from track to track. While the quality of the lead vocals is not in question, the tone sometimes is. At times they have a tendency to sound as if they were recorded in a cupboard and the guitar sound is also quite muddy.
Worst offender though is the truly pedestrian drum sound. It kills the impact of the rhythm section completely and therefore knocks some of the power out of these songs.
It's great to hear Kevin back in the melodic rock business and I'm hoping his partnership with the band continues for a long time to come. But next time, perhaps a bigger recording budget and name producer might achieve a better overall result.
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