|REO Speedwagon Find Your Own Way Home||Indie |
How often do we go over the argument that a band should rock harder or return to their more classic sound to please fans?|
Over the years I have praised other albums for doing just that. I have also praised other albums featuring a more contemporary sound or ones that embrace a more mature laid back style.
It could get confusing I guess, but do you know what is at the heart of all those records that worked? The same thing that was missing from the albums that didn't work - great songs.
For any album to succeed, you need great songs and a great sound.
REO Speedwagon has nailed those two important factors with their new release Find Your Own Way Home.
Of course, individual tastes then come into play, but you are never going to please everyone all of the time. This could be said of any artist or band with a long history – there are always going to be varied opinions on new material. There will be some that accept just about anything, as long as the quality is there and there will be others that are sticklers for an artist's classic sound. Perhaps to the disappointment of some, this is not an outwardly rocking release. But it has a lot of style.
The album kicks off in the finest possible fashion with one of the more direct rockers I have heard from the band, but the album as a whole is a very smooth and polished ride starting in melodic rock territory and evolving through into a more mature adult contemporary landscape.
But always there is quality and the album is immaculately produced. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that the first four tracks on this album are as good as the opening 4 tracks on any REO album from their vast history.
Track By Track:
Smilin' In The End is a wonderful uptempo rocker, with a great riff and perfect 'you won't beat me' lyric.
The mid-tempo feel good Find Your Own Way Home is the very definition of the band's classic sound and for that matter, the sound of a generation of American melodic rock artists – an earthy sound complete with organ, impassioned lead vocal and a tasty guitar driven hook.
It continues to get better with the classy and classic REO ballad I Needed To Fall. If this can't be a radio hit in this day and age, then no artist of this ilk can do it. What a great ballad.
Dangerous Combination is another great track that I love, but is one that highlights the other style in play within this album. The song is a great lightweight uptempo pop rocker with a great lyric and a wonderful chorus hook. But the underlying style sees the band dip into southern rock, adding an earthy country tinge to the song and the guitar parts. What it reminds me of is the Midwestern/AOR outfit King Of Hearts. Great song though…
After dipping their feet into a southern rock sound with the last track, Lost On The Road Of Love sees the band dive head first into the swagger of Nashville. An organic organ sound, that twang in the guitar and a slow 38 Special swagger to the song will see some skip this track and others appreciate it for what it is. Personally it is my least favourite track of the album.
Another Lifetime sees the band return to a more classic and expected REO sound. A pleasant and strong verse evolves into a slightly more urgent verse. This is almost a ballad, but an uptempo one at that.
Run Away Baby is a hard one to peg. I didn't get into it at all at first, but the more I listen, the more I think it is a great example of classic early REO, with a new twist. This is another lightweight and breezy pop/rocker with a strong country tinge once again. The chorus is so openly happy, it might seem cheesy to some, but for whatever reason, I think it works and works well in the scheme of this album.
Everything You Feel is a somewhat darker and moodier number, but after the last track, just about any song would seem as such. The chorus and verse have little in common, but the song works well in its slot.
Born To Love You opens with a piano lead that reminds me a little of The Hooters and the way they tinkle with their intros, but is also accompanied by some slide guitar, before drifting into a bluesy mid-tempo bar room rock song sung by Bruce Hall. I'm not sold on this tune either I'm afraid.
Let My Love Find You is a largely acoustic driven pop ballad that could easily have been lifted from any of the last few John Waite albums. You know the style – smooth, great vocal and hook, and a little country influence in there for good measure.
The song is driven in principle by the lead vocals of Kevin and some rich harmony vocals.
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