Album Reviews
Band: Shadowman

Title: Secrets And Lies

Label: Escape Music 

What do you get if you add part Thunder to a dash of FM, and sprinkle some Heartland to the mix?  The answer is Shadowman, which has a consistency of Steve Overland, Chris Childs, Harry James (Harry, Harry!!) and Steve Morris, plus special guest of ex-FM keyboard player Didge Digital to finish off this mouthwatering concoction for us to salivate over! (eat yer heart out, Fanny Craddock!).  Yep, this 'super-group' are now on their 5th studio album after their debut 14 years ago, and it has to be noted, this outfit definitely mature with age, as they just get better as they go along, this album maybes more than ever having inklings of each members 'other band's' shadowing quite a few of the tunes on display here. 

 

Diving straight into the pot, 'Gravity' has Didge leading the way with his experimental robotic keys, before 'Wor Harry' lets loose on his skins, the pulsating beat accompanied by the rockiest of solos that bounces in and out at will, and as the saying goes, the stall is set out for what is to come.  'Automatic' stirs up an FM/Thunder twist with it's melodic rocking theme done to a tee, those unmistakable pipes of Overland cooking on gas as usual, and as the slow=burner 'Put It All On Love' gently makes an entry with a lovely solo from Morris, his vocals melt all over this ballad-like track, proving once and for all why he's held in such high esteem amongst the Rock scene.  4.43 minutes of sheer quality, and done with as much ease as Stevie Wonder scoring a goal against Sunderland!!

 

'Contagious' gets a good layering of keys from 'The Didge' as the sound gets pumped up for this foot-tapping rocker, slipping into a bluesy, early Whitesnake mode for the hip-swaying corker 'Broken Bones', where Harry takes charge on his pounding kit, nearly, but not quite overpowered by the short but huge solo from Morris, though he does score a gold medal for his slicing riff at the intro to 'Best Things In Life' that has Didge doing his best Ray Manzarek (The Doors) half way through on this catchy little number.


Bringing the tone down to Slumberland, the easy on the ears slowie 'Face The Night' will get those lighters out in their droves, it's almost mystical aura both compelling and relaxing as an ethereal solo fills the air, which actually sounds like heaven in the car, then either Overland has caught himself in his zip or his impression of a surprised cat takes some getting used to the more you listen to the beginning of the very FM'd ballsy 'No Smoke Without Fire', straight from their vaults to tell you the truth, but try and explain who 'Good Times, Bad Times' can be compared to?!  Not the bands mentioned earlier as it races away for all it's worth, the finger popping solo here and gone in a flash, Harry pretending to be an octopus as he must have more than two arms to handle the pace as well as he does, no doubt being ever so thankful that the tempo eases off on 'Be True To Yourself', settling into a fine example of the mid paced melodic rocker that each member here are so well known for, Overland on top form as usual in the vocal department. 

 

The jazzy/rock intro to 'Secrets and Lies' could easily star The Police's Andy Summers on guitar, as it sounds as if Morris has been listening to 'Hole In My Life' from the 70's/80's band's album 'Outlandos d'Amour', recently, the snazzy, funky/jazz vibe a breath of fresh air amongst the rockier track on display, That's not to say that those type of songs are ... 'the norm' or owt, it's just nice to get something off kilter that stands out now and then, and this is exactly what Shadowman have done on this track, and well done to them for that.

 

Now, I'm at a bit of a conundrum when it comes to track 12,  'cos even though 'Stand Up And Be Counted' is on the track listing I've got, the song isn't on the disc I'm listening to, but if this album is anything to go by, then I can only say that it will be a fine old song to go with the rest here!! There, end of the album ...!! Could be a good reason to listen to 'Secret and Lies' so you can actually find out if it is as good as the others, so if you do, you know who to contact to put me, I mean them, out of their misery!!!

Review by: Robb Baldwin

 

Tracklisting:

1.  Gravity 
2.  Automatic
3.  Put It All On Love
4.  Contagious
5.  Broken Bones
6.  Best Things In Life
7.  Face The Night
8.  No Smoke Without Fire
9.  Good Times, Bad Times
10.  Be True To Yourself  
11. Secrets And Lies 
12. Stand Up And Be Counted

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