|James Christian Meet The Man||Frontiers Records|
James Christian returns with only his second solo album – amazing considering that his writing and recording career is so vast. Most recently, James returned to action fronting the long awaited House Of Lords album The Power & The Myth – the comeback that should have been huge, but sadly wasn't.|
This album has been touted as the album for disappointed House Of Lords fans, or more precisely; the album that is truer to the sound James Christian is famous for.
Well, that it is – but it's still a little way off his best work. The 11 tracks of Meet The Man are all from Christian's past – a sample of the vast number of songs he has written over the years that were never released officially.
However, this is most definitely not a collection of unreleased demos. The album was recorded in full this year, with Fabrizio V.Zee Grossi and his regular recording team behind the music. JC recorded the lead and backing vocals at his home studio in Florida.
As a long time fan of James Christian, I welcome any release from him. This is a solid melodic rock release, with a great deal to offer fans of the genre and of Christian's in general.
But as stated, there are a couple of small drawbacks with this release.
My main problem with the House Of Lords release – aside from the lack of better choruses – was the lack of life in the lead vocals. Meet The Man is far stronger – James sounds more powerful and more in control, but I still think he has gas left in the tank, as this performance still doesn't match that of Rude Awakening or the first three House Of Lords releases.
Musically speaking, the team of Grossi, Biggs Brice, JM Scattolin and Roberto Vanni provides a solid base – if not a little predictable. The actual album sound isn't far removed from the previous Vertigo or From The Inside projects, which is ok in itself, but it is at risk of becoming a little familiar.
And with regards to James Christian, I'm not sure it's the best possible fit.
JC's and the House Of Lords sound has always been the very definition of American stadium melodic rock and Fabrizio's sound is far more European.
While not everyone was happy with the production on James' debut solo album Rude Awakening, it was closer to the anthemic House Of Lords sound. Meet The Man is a mix of that and Grossi's signature sound.
Additionally, being the scene as it is, many of these tracks in their raw, demo quality form have been available for some time now. That means that for a few select die hard Christian fans – there won't be too many unheard songs featured here.
The material is pretty much what fans of JC could expect – although coupled with the question over style, is the fact I think the songs already recorded and released by James are stronger than this overall collection of songs.
Track By Track:
After The Love Has Gone is a good classic JC style track for an opener, with a strong vocal and good chorus.
Know You In The Dark is one track that has been floating around for years and is nicely done here. Features some nice lead guitar from Roberto Vanni.
Surrender Your Love is a tasteful ballad, although it is just a little laid back. The power of the song doesn't kick in for a couple of minutes.
Meet The Man has a snappy rhythm, but I am not overly found of it. I don't find the chorus overly appealing and I don't like the guitar sound on this track.
End Of Time is a stronger track. This is more in keeping with high quality JC style melodic rock. It features a good chorus, strong vocals and a cleaner sound.
Love Looked Into My Life is a uptempo anthem ballad that features a strong lead vocal and a classic style more familiar to fans of Rude Awakening.
Leave Well Enough Alone is another track that should be very familiar to tape traders out there. This is a classic Christian track and is an album highlight – a typically uptempo rock track with a big chorus.
Strong Enough keeps the tempo rolling along nicely. The second half of the album is easily the best – with this cool anthem a clear indication of why.
The quality slides a little with You Should Be Blue (All I Could Feel Was Blue). It's an ok mid-tempo rock song, but doesn't feature as strong a chorus as the last few tracks and therefore kills the album tempo a little.
Circle of Tears is a darker and moodier number, with a good chorus and some fine guitar work.
Hold Back The Night is an almost-epic, starting slow and building over nearly six minutes to a big finale. It's something a little different for Christian, but not for the genre as a whole. Nevertheless, an interesting guitar fuelled close to the album.
I think that the album could have been even better than it is, but am happy enough with the results.
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