|Philip Bardowell In The Cut||Frontiers Records|
Let's cut straight to the point. This is a mighty fine album filled with glorious AOR that will appeal to both fans of the old-school traditional sound of this genre and fans of more current releases.|
This release is old-school in style, but thanks to a snappy delivery and smooth production, never sounds dated or stuck in an 80's time warp – even though the heart of the material is from that period.
Philip Bardowell takes time out from his role as the current Unruly Child vocalist and joins AOR journeyman Tommy Denander, who controls much of the instrumentation for the record.
Drummer of the moment Daniel Flores (Novak, Xsavior) handles all percussion, ensuring the album doesn't feature that dreaded mechanical programmed drum sound. Thank God!
Denander puts in an inspired performance on guitars, bass and keyboards. The axeslinging is some of his best yet and as per his musical history, sounds like a cross between Steve Lukather, Neal Schon, Dann Huff and Frankie Sullivan.
Some appreciation for Denander's trademark sound is required to get the most out of this release, but it's not an essential prerequisite. Perhaps more than any other of his projects, this has its own feel. Fans of the Radioactive releases will definitely enjoy this as will those that purchased the recent Jim Jidhed solo release.
Denander and Bardowell rip through a few rockers such as the delightful opening track In The Cut which really shreds and the glorious AOR of the Curt Cuomo penned Never Too Late For Love (which has also been tracked by Stan Bush).
The majority of the album is a little more laid back and while it is both slow, mid and uptempo, is very firmly set in classic AOR territory.
There are only two originals in this set, with the remaining songs culled from some of the genre's best writers. This proves to be another master stroke, as the songs picked are perfect for Bardowell's voice and he at times acts as a chameleon, wrapping his own voice around the style the track might have originally been intended for.
The passionate and emotional Mark Spiro track Through My Eyes is a nice counter to the frenzy of the opening Toto inspired rocker.
Then a double dose of Stan Bush brilliance with Heart Of A Hero and the even better soaring power ballad I Gotta Believe sets the whole album up. Both tracks are sung true to form.
The moody She Will Never Know is a Bardowell original and fits the album well, at this point of the album allowing a break in intensity.
The Bobby Barth penned It's A Long Road is another great slice of moody uptempo AOR.
One Day In January and the closing Voices Of The Heart match the vibe of She Will Never Know (written by Jim Peterik), giving the album a little variation and some moody, laid back texture.
The pick of the album for me though is the utterly glorious AOR masterpiece Dreamin' With My Eyes Wide Open. It's hard to reason why this gem of a track written by Jim Peterik has remained buried for over 15 years! Philip Bardowell does the song proud.
Just as Denander at times takes on the musical persona of his peers, so does Bardowell as a vocalist. He is somewhat of a chameleon throughout the record and the only negative one could come up with is that it would be nice to hear more of his own personality in play.
In The Cut at times sounds a little like Lou Gramm lead Foreigner, at others like a nice dose of Giant with some Unruly Child and Toto thrown in for good measure. This is one of Denander's finer moments and is up there with Oliver Hartman's album as two of the best pure AOR albums for 2005.
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