|Tom Cochrane No Stranger||Universal Music Canada|
Canadian Hall Of Famer Tom Cochrane is one of my musical heroes. Right up there with Rick Springfield and John Waite, Cochrane is a gifted singer/songwriter who has the ability (like those mentioned alongside him) to get directly to the heart of the matter and deliver moving, emotionally effective music be it when he is rocking, delivering a feel good pop rocker, or getting deep on a powerful ballad.|
I rate 1987's Tom Cochrane & Red Rider and 1995's Ragged Ass Road as absolute classics, with several other albums not far behind.
That's why it breaks my heart to speak of this album as a disappointment, but it is in a big way.
It has been 8 years since Tom's X-Ray Sierra and in that time it seems that Tom has caught old-man's disease. He has forgotten how to rock.
Actually, I can forgive the lack of rockers on the album, as that is just one side of Tom's musical personality. But the album is weighed down by slow and lackluster ballads, and relies all too much on an acoustic tone instead of Tom's usual electric fired delivery.
The album as a whole sees a more stripped down approach taken. There are few overdubs used and a more live-in-the-studio feel is present.
Tom's done this before mind you he already has an acoustic live album to his name which worked a treat, but the songs here just don't hold up as strong enough.
The album's opening track The Party's Not Over is a sure fire commercial hit and the albums only real uptempo rocker. Even here the more organic approach is evident, but the raw honestly in Tom's voice is a good trade-off.
But from this point onwards it is all ballad territory. I'm quite fond of the second track Glide, which as the title suggests, glides through the speakers and offers fans a feel good mid-tempo acoustic driven sample of the more mature songwriter Cochrane has become.
Next up While You Are Young might have done something for me especially with the classic slide guitar and old-school Cochrane feel to it but by the end of the album it gets lost among the sheer number of slow songs featured.
White Horse is another song that on its own has a lot of merit a raw, honest vocal and a charming folkish influence, but in the scheme of the album has its impact limited. A slow track surrounded by slow tracks has difficulty in standing out.
The adult contemporary mid-tempo rock song Didn't Mean is the first single an odd choice I thought, given the tempo. I should have guessed it meant that the album would not be what I was hoping for.
I speak of my frustration with the dominance of ballads on this album. Two tracks that stand out as definite highlights match the slow tempo of the album, but offer something a little different.
Rough and Tumble is an acoustic song, but it has some fire in its belly fitting it seems, as the song pays tribute to the Canadian troops fighting overseas and also makes several references to Cochrane's musical past. Great song
Another ballad follows up next, but Out of My Head is one of the very best ballads that I have ever heard Tom Cochrane sing. Raw, emotional, heartfelt and a beautiful chorus.
Deep Breath follows, unfortunately continuing the album's ultra slow pace, but without the hooks of the last couple of songs. It kills the momentum built by the tracks before it.
Northern Star is better still acoustic driven, but with a little more spark, a strong chorus and finally some electric guitar too.
The last three songs are 3 of the more interesting tracks I have heard from Tom and proof that he can still turn it on and deliver in a harder hitting style if he so chooses.
The three songs run together, taking a similar musical theme of distorted guitar and bluesy vocal.
Starting with Since You Left Me, the song swaggers through to the instrumental Colour Blue and into a cover of the psychedelic 70s rocker Spirit in the Sky. I really don't like that song (probably due to ass-silly cover of it recorded in the late 80s), but I respect what Tom has done with it here and in sequence with the other 2 tracks, works a treat.
I sure as hell hope it isn't 8 years until Cochrane decides to record again and next time pick up the pace a little Tom.
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