a l b u m r e v i e w s

Produced by: Tommy Shaw, Dennis De Young & James Young
  1. I Will Be Your Witness
  2. Brave New World
  3. While There's Still Time
  4. Number One
  5. Best New Face
  6. What Have They Done To You
  7. Fallen Angel
  8. Everything Is Cool
  9. Great Expectations
  10. Heavy Water
  11. High Crimes & Misdemeanors
  12. Just Fell In
  13. Goodbye Roseland
  14. Brave New World (reprise)
It took a while for the CD to arrive and rather than rush a review online, I deliberately held back to try and form the best opinion I could.
Of course I do this with all the reviews, but in this case am a little more hesitant as I know you die hard Styx fans will let me know if I get it wrong!
Well let me know your thoughts, but in the end my initial response to the album remains.
I am basically unconvinced by the album.
As usual it is split into 2 different styles, with Tommy Shaw and Dennis De Young each making their own mark. I think the album lacks a little direction and the flow of the album could use a lot of improvement. It is also a fairly dark album.
But it all isn't bad news - there are still some highly enjoyable moments, some great music and very strong vocals...but it could have been even better. Especially when you consider the talent spread between the guys.
I Will Be Your Witness opens the album. A little too laid back to open an album for my liking. This could have easily been lifted from Tommy Shaw's last solo album and along with his 'half' of the album, was probably was written then. A good track musically, but short on inspiration.
Brave New World has a laid back intro again. Moody and mysterious, it does build to a nice peak, but again it sounds like Tommy's last album. The chorus does feature some good harmony vocals. An acoustic driven rocker.
In fact the lead vocals from Tommy Shaw on the first two tracks and the rest of the album even, are very strong indeed.
While There's Still Time sees the band adopt their usual - and I must say somewhat annoying tactic - of completely changing style with the change of vocalists from Tommy to Dennis De Young.
That aside, this is a great ballad, with Dennis in good form. Although the style of the song is in keeping with Dennis' recent love of musicals, it isn't a traditional ballad by any means. Tommy Shaw provides some really cool backing vocals in places - something I wish the band would do more of. Little chance of that now.
Number One is another Tommy Shaw number and again fits into his recent solo style. It is a little more in your face and while mid paced at best, is a modern rocker, with the albums' first real sign of guitars. Pity they are distorted so much.
Best New Face is a pretty happy mid paced pop song. First sign of a reasonably happy song.
What Have They Done To You is a psychedelic modern rocker with twin vocals from James Young and Tommy Shaw. This is likely to be a good live track, but I think it loses something in the studio. Not a bad track.
On Fallen Angel the band switches back to show tunes mode, with another vocal from Dennis De Young. It's a more uptempo tune with a great vocal and nice melody, but I really don't like the chorus much.
Everything Is Cool is so far the best track of the album. Finally a track with balls!
Great hard edged guitars, a much better pace and some groovy Tommy Shaw vocals. This track will shred live and should remain a favourite of fans. Check out the intense instrumental break.
Another stylistic 180 is done for Great Expectations, yes, back again to De Young. This tune is a little bluesy / jazzy number. It's OK.
Heavy Water is another killer tune. I wish there were more like this and Everything Is Cool. This is one of the heaviest Styx tunes I have ever heard and rocks big time. Again the vocals are shared between James and Tommy.
High Crimes & Misdemeanors is another semi-abstract number, again jazzy to a point, but more rocking. De Young is in fine voice, but it has no connection to the Shaw tracks on the record.
Just Fell In is good vibe uptempo pop rocker with a 60's pop vibe. Lyrically very funny, the song comes complete with horns and brass, but fails to leave a mark on me.
Goodbye Roseland is a big De Young ballad.
Brave New World (reprise) is a cleaver mix up of several of the album tracks in a re-mixed soft of fasion. Interesting song and quite cool.
And that is it folks.
This will no doubt keep a great number of Styx fans happy - it is hard to say it's not up to their usual standard, as they change at will. But seriously I can't find more than 4 or 5 tunes i find really memorable here. Yes, I have listened to it 15 or 20 times, but it just doesn't move me.
I for one am disappointed with it. No great vibe sorry. OK start mailing me now!!
ESSENTIAL FOR: Seasoned fans of the band and of Tommy Shaw and co.

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