FIRST SIGNAL - Closer To The Edge (2022)


The debut First Signal album was a conceived partnership between Dennis Ward and Harem Scarem frontman Harry Hess, with a band formed around the duo including Eric Ragno on keyboards and German drummer Chris Schmidt. It was a very classy affair, with songs from Erik Martensson, the Martin Brothers, Mark Baker and some covers.

The follow up One Step Over The Line came after Dennis Ward’s co-operation with Frontiers came to an end, with Swedish producer Daniel Flores stepping in. The album wouldn’t reach the heights of the debut, but it was very good.

The third album was again solid, this time with songs from the likes of Stan Meissner, Harry Hess, Andreas Johansson, Carl Dixon, Bruce Turgon and others, it stood up well. And it sounded well produced.

Sadly, for album number four, the situation has changed again, and Frontiers roll out their all-too-familiar crew of in-house writers to deliver an album that not only lacks the distinct vibe of the debut, but any originality whatsoever.

Daniel Flores own production lacks the crispness of past efforts, the emphasis again here is on an in-your-face audio onslaught of keyboards and guitars just flood your ears, with Harry struggling to be heard underneath. But to be honest, there’s not a lot to hear within the songs. It’s another dose of paint by numbers Euro-AOR, that the label has spent the last few years saturating the market with.

You could almost take my recent review of the upcoming Skills project and substitute the text here.

Bland, lacking personality and much like the Find Me album, if it wasn’t for the lead singer in question, musically speaking, the album wouldn’t raise the attention of anyone.

Half an album of decent songs that are only borderline ok thanks to the keyboard saturation, but the rest of the songs could be anyone, anywhere, anytime.

The label’s PR for the album lists only Hess and Flores as part of the lineup. I guess fans have to wait to actually purchase the album (and risk being disappointed) to see who else appears on the album.

Whoever is responsible for the guitars should be immediately removed from any future recording opportunities. Just so bland and uninspired and totally derivative of an already well-milked sound.

In fact, the press kit only contains 8 pictures of Harry Hess. And there’s your problem folks. Rather than a band project, this new First Signal is just another faceless, nameless project, fed to fans of the strength of the frontman alone. But without the songs or soul, it falls flat. Again.

Take a listen to the brilliant debut or either of the two that followed. Just so far ahead of this record in every sense.