|Vertigo Vertigo||Frontiers Records|
Vertigo is the new vehicle for former Toto vocalist Joseph Williams which sees him returning to melodic rock duties after a far too long gap between this and his last solo album – some 6 years ago.|
Joseph has been off earning (a far more lucrative) living working in LA on film and TV soundtracks, but was convinced by Frontiers to take part in a new album with a tougher and heavier rock edge.
Joining Williams in Vertigo is famed and much sort after LA based producer Fabrizio V.Zee Grossi (who also plays bass, rhythm guitars, keyboards and adds the album's sampling, programming and loops), former Dokken guitarist and solo performer Alex De Rosso, Biggs Brice (drums) and JM Scattolin (additional guitars). Rounding out the line up is Francis Benitez, who provides backing vocals.
Vertigo is heavier than any other album Williams has sung on before. It's guitar driven melodic hard rock and sees the singer really put through his paces. It's such a welcomed change from his very Westcoast AOR solo albums and is easily his best work outside the Toto albums Seventh One and Fahrenheit.
In fact, I rank this album number 2 behind The Seventh One.
Vertigo really rocks. Thanks to a very tight and contemporary production sound from Grossi and some inspired lead guitar from De Rosso, the album packs a powerful punch and ranks as one of the year's best pure melodic rock releases and one of the best from the Frontiers label.
The added production effects, teamed with Williams' traditional AOR style vocals, means this album has a classic feel to appeal to all traditional melodic rock fans, but with an updated sound.
Several guest songwriters are involved, but at the crux of several of the album's songs is Williams long time partner Joey Carbone.
Track By Track:
The opening track sets the tone of the album, with a direct, guitar driven approach that's both tougher and heavier than Williams work alongside Steve Lukather. Interestingly, the best song doesn't open the album, but Not Enough Hours In The Night is still right up there. The song is penned by Jim Peterik/Matt Thornton and features a chorus that evolves with repeated listens. Initial playback might disappoint, but it's a song that develops into an album favourite and suits Joseph's voice to a tee.
Straight To Your Heart is possibly the album's best track, with a pure melodic rock approach, updated due to some progressive production effects. Written by Carbone, the song features a catchy verse and an instantly memorable chorus which takes the song up a notch or two and sees Williams really delivering his vocals with some gusto.
His voice sounds a little gruff in places, but I love the conviction of his delivery and the overall power of the song.
More Than Enough is a mid-tempo rock ballad that features more fine lead guitar by De Rosso. This is a moody and powerful rock ballad, with some seriously good guitar playing throughout and as the song progresses, an increasingly tough sounding Williams.
Never Let You Go is a first rate uptempo rocker. Written by Stuart Smith, the song bounds along beautifully with a real feel good vibe. I love the use of vocal effects for the song's bridge, before a huge AOR chorus bursts through, with female backing vocals adding extra texture.
I Don't Want To Go is one of the album's big ballads and is perfect for Joseph Williams. Featuring a big chorus and big hook, the song should rate as a fan favourite, fitting the style of Williams solo albums perfectly – if not just that little bit heavier.
I Want To Be Wanted is a cover of the classic Dan Lucas track. While Lucas' version is near perfect, this version gives it a run for its money. With an updated production and a very Steve Lukather feel to it. This version is a little heavier; with Williams really getting stuck into the song the longer it goes. China Sky is a more laid back track and closest in style to his solo albums, with a more bubbly pop/AOR feel to it. A catchy chorus is the song's best asset.
Love Is Blind is another different track. Dominated by a strong guitar riff, the album features a darker vibe and a chorus that isn't instantly likable, but grows with repeated listens.
When It Doesn't Matter is a pure pop track, with an easy going vibe and a chorus that comes and goes quickly.
Sarah is a cover of a Paul Alan song from the Christian singer's debut album Falling Awake – released last year. This is another more pop styled track that Williams makes his own with a strong vocal performance. It's an ok track, but not an album highlight.
Vertigo is an interesting track. Not everyone's going to like this, but I think it's cool. The song is written by David Tyson and is the toughest vocal track of the album, while also being the moodiest and least traditional as far as structure, No big chorus here, just a strong and heavy slow to mid tempo rock track.
More Than Enough is an acoustic remix that's exclusive for Europe. The track is varied nicely here and slightly extended. A soft, but moody version that ends the album quite well and is a nice contrast to the intensity of the title track.
While comparisons due to Williams' vocals can be made, one of the best things about this album is that it isn't a cash in on his former glory with Toto.
This is his own project and I suspect a welcomed one for fans of solid melodic hard rock fans that just love a good melody, a strong singer and some hard edged guitar tracks.
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