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Well, I guess this result isn’t the shock of the year after my unadulterated praise for the album over the last few months. It’s finally due to hit retail shelves this week so and might I recommend you grab your copies now before stock runs low, because this is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the last few years and a truly classic record to my ears.
Jimi Jamison’s last solo album saw him teamed with former Survivor band mate Jim Peterik to write and record an album for him. The momentous Crossroads Moment was an amazing record that was packed with quality songs. It perhaps had a couple of songs too many, but Jim Peterik’s writing blitz for the album bought out so many great songs, the decision on what to leave in or out was almost impossible.
That album featured a definite Survivor-esque tone, but more so it favored Jim Peterik’s post-Survivor writing style – which is just as fabulous in my mind, he can do no wrong.
Despite being entirely written by someone else, the Never Too Late album sounds to me like a more natural Jimi Jamison solo album.
Yes, it has some really strong Survivor moments, but it also really suits his voice to a tee and gives us another reminder of who Jimi the solo artist is.
Never Too Late features the writing, musical and production talents of the unbelievably inspired Erik Martensson, himself fresh off the success of the new Eclipse album and still riding a wave of popularity thanks to the W.E.T. and Toby Hitchcock releases.
There is something about Erik’s ability to really nail the direction of the music for the singer in question. The Hitchcock album was tougher than expected, but the heavier, more urgent tone really brought out the best in Toby.
And with this album, Erik pulls back a little to a space where Jimi gets to sound as powerful as he has ever sounded, but as melodic as ever also.
Everybody’s Got A Broken Heart is a fresh and energetic uptempo opener, with an updated 80s feel and some Survivor riffing. Great chorus and great vocals from Jimi.
The Great Unknown has a good dose of keyboards in the mix, but what immediately stands out for me is Jimi’s awesome vocal. Nice to hear that emotional rasp in there, which adds grit to the song. And the chorus? Out of this world folks!
Never Too Late sounds like it might be a ballad to start with, a simple piano line plays behind Jimi’s vocal (which again sounds awesome), but the song soon picks up exactly how those Survivor anthems used to. And once again, in typical Martensson fashion, the chorus explodes as the song goes into overdrive.
I Can’t Turn Back has a really moody synth intro and an equally restrained vocal. But it builds slowly and soars as a hard edged lead guitar takes over. Another big 80s sounding song with a modern feel.
Street Survivor is one of the albums heavier tracks and really packs a punch after a couple of melodic rock anthems. It has the feel of an opening track, but I like it’s positioning here. It’s urgent, it rocks and Jimi delivers a huge vocal.
The Air I Breathe is a hit single in waiting. A stirring sentimental ballad, the song builds perfectly as it goes and the chorus is simply massive. Yet another compliment here for Jimi’s vocals (which he co-produced by the way – great effort), which soar to heights not heard in years.
Not Tonight is one of those instantly perfect songs. The type of song you love from the first line and just gets better. And the chorus is another monster. This reminds me of something that might have worked for Bryan Adams (Waking Up The Neighbours era). A typically 80s song – wide open and breezy and impossible not to sing along with.
Calling The Game sees yet another anthem delivered, albeit a more direct and rocking one, with an urgent feel and more piano melodies entwined around the guitar work.
Bullet In The Gun is a tougher, harder rocking tune that might have fit on the Toby Hitchcock album – a typical Erik Martensson number this – which of course makes it brilliant. The song actually has a guitar/piano tradeoff that would have fit on the Crossroads Moment album. And more big vocals and a big chorus of course! Heaven Call Your Name is my favourite ballad of Jimi’s in a long time. The vocal is haunting, emotional and beyond powerful. The song itself is a melancholy tribute to loved ones passed and yet another career highlight for Jimi. The closeout is epic.
The album closes with the tough uptempo rocker Walk On (Wildest Dreams). The verse has a driving beat and a pulsating vocal, which gives way to a very melodic chorus where keyboards play a bigger role. A really strong statement to end a perfect album.
Another classic for the MR hall of fame, another notch in the belt for both Jimi Jamison and writer/producer Erik Martensson and an album that really should have wide appeal among most readers of this site. An essential purchase dare I say? And to close – the album is a perfect length – long enough to be totally satisfying, but still leaves you wanting more.