|Talisman 7||Frontiers Records|
Someone once wrote to me and said I had a bias towards Jeff Scott Soto and Harem Scarem. Sure, but I prefer to think of it as a bias towards great music and as far as I am concerned these two artists rarely put a foot wrong.|
So read whatever bias into this you may, but I don't think for one second that any long time Talisman fan is going to disagree.
Sure, not all may agree with my assessment that this is Talisman's best record ever, but I am supremely confident that it will at least rank as one of the band's very best for all fans.
And with vocalist Jeff Scott Soto's foray into Journey, there is for the first time in a long time, a whole stack of new fans about to discover this side of his musical personality.
These folk could not have picked a better album to come on board to, as Talisman 7 delivers 11 classic melodic hard rock tracks that collectively add up to a truly wild ride through the many facets of Jeff and Talisman's history.
The best thing about 7 is the fact the band sound as fresh as if this was there debut album, yet it draws on the experience gathered over 6 previous studio albums and some 15+ years together.
Musically speaking the album touches on all the band's recognized trademarks and a few of Jeff's own, while trying a couple of new things which I think will really impress listeners.
The guys took their time writing this record and it shows. I think it is the most consistent album from the band as each of the 11 tracks delivers something different and no sooner do you get to the end of the record, you want to play it again from the start.
Marcel Jacob is a revelation on this record, providing most of the guitar parts as well as his usual impressive bass work.
Track By Track:
The modern almost punky feel to the opening of the album with Falling initially caught me off guard, but feels natural once you get to know the album. JSS' powerhouse vocals drive the song through its thrashy beat into a chorus that also gets better each spin and features a nice punchy rhythm section.
Nowhere Fast kicks off with one of the more thumping bass lines in recent memory and slips into a classic Talisman groove, accompanied by a quirky guitar riff that sets up the song melody. The chorus is more instant and one I love hearing. Jeff's vocals are his typical style - attitude laced with soul and really are quite something. He sounds so at home and so comfortable with this material.
Rhyme or Reason has the same production vibe and style, not to mention the same moody groove as the band's previous cover of Seal's Crazy. The sultry vocals and the intensity of the bass and guitar interplay are not the most commercial of combinations, but anyone that knows Talisman knows this groove and the song is a real grower.
End Of The Line features another killer bass riff which opens up into a flurry of drums before a truly funky rhythm and lead vocal takes over the song. The chorus is pure JSS gold – layered vocals, great lift in tempo and vocal range, all the while rolling along with a classic groove.
The 1 I'm Living 4 is one of the places within the album were the band try something new. And boy, does this track work. This is a new Talisman classic and for those Journey fans coming on board, this is where that band could take some lead from. The song is a mid-tempo melodic rocker, featuring a wonderfully soulful lead vocal that starts low and builds throughout the song.
There is an underlying soft and sultry vibe and that unmistakable Marcel Jacob groove, but it is all wrapped up in a feel good melody that is impossible not to love first listen.
On My Way is more or less classic JSS. A perfect answer to the last couple of moody tracks, this uptempo pop rocker is a feel good anthem with a perfect commercial pop chorus. Given the intensity of the album as a whole, this is a great mid-album circuit breaker.
Forevermore is one of two big ballads on the album. Talisman generally aren't known for their sentimental ballads, but here they deliver two cracking examples. This is a brilliant ballad with a big harmony filled chorus and some nice piano parts. Definitely more comparable with JSS solo material, the band makes it their own with that classic groove.
Succumb 2 My Desire is perhaps the funkiest Talisman track ever. And that's saying something. This has such an infectious groove, it is simply impossible not to dig it.
There are a few different parts to the song – the soulful funk rock of the verse, the uptempo groove of the bridge and then the even faster chorus. Then there is the brilliant James Brown funk of the latter part of the song which I can't get enough of.
Shed A Tear Goodbye is another track which I think is something as little different for the band – which let's face it – has never been afraid to try something different. A soulful intro bursts to life into another uptempo, very commercial rock track with a great verse-bridge-chorus set up. The songs has a definite feel good vibe to it and the chorus is one of the more instant featured on the album.
Troubled Water is a mix of classic Talisman groove, with a more modern musical base and production style. A more straight ahead rock verse gives way to a funky chorus, which then morphs back into the next verse. It is an interesting song that keeps the listeners attention.
The band closes the album with the second big ballad. Back 2 The Feeling is a soulful and passionate rock ballad with a killer vocal and some fine guitar work.
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