Album Reviews
Band: AOR

Title: Return To LA

Label: Independent Release

'Return to LA' is the fourteenth release from Frédéric Slama’s AOR and once again Slama has brought in the cream of the Melodic and AOR community to bring his vision to life.

Taking things up on the vocal front are Paul Sabu, Tommy Funderburk, Rick Riso, Jesse Damon, Erika Norberg, Bob Harris, Sarah and Mélissa Fontaine.  On the musician front we see joining Slama we have regular Tommy Denander, along with Colin Rodgers (guitars/bass) and Pat Thern (drums).

This star studded album lives up to the sum of its parts and explores the heavier side of the AOR genre, delivering sounds that wouldn’t be amiss in the heyday of the genre, but the modern production methods led by the three main protagonists Slama, Denander and Sabu, have made this an album that doesn’t sound dated, but still gives a gentle nod to days gone by.

The album opens up with ‘Victim of My Own Desire’ and instantly the soaring guitars and keyboards lead the charge, before Sabu unleashes his unmistakable vocal talent to the mix, on the first of three outings for the big man.

Next up it's Tommy Funderburk who lends his vocal majesty to ‘The Trail To Your Heart’.  Another classy slab of melody rich AOR, with the edgy guitars taking this song to the heavier end of genre.  The soaring guitar work continues on the Foreigner-esque ‘Dangerous To Know’, featuring Chasing Violets Rick Riso, who like Funderburk, brings that classic AOR sound back in spades.

One of the many highlights of the album has to be ‘Angels Never Sleep’, the first of two tracks with Damon at the mike.  This returns to the harder edged vocals familiar to that of Sabu and allows Slama to venture down that harder path without sidestepping outside the genre itself.

The album takes a more ballad orientated path with ‘Burning Rainbows’, with the wonderful tones of Erika Norberg bringsing an air of majesty to proceedings, before we hear the return of Sabu to the mike and the return to harder edged rock for the excellent ‘The Sign Of Fire’. 

Keeping the rockier side of things going is ‘The Breaking Point’, the second of the Damon tracks carrying on from where Sabu left off, before the purer AOR tones of Bob Harris are unleashed on the wonderful ’99 Percent Chance of Loving You’.  A keyboard laden wonderment that will have the die hard melodic fans in raptures.

It's back to the ballads with 'Love Remains The Same’ with the Fontaine sisters delivering the goods as the harmonies between the two sisters will melt the hardest of hearts.  The album closes as it opened, with Sabu at the mike and the storming ‘The Wisdom Of Eve’, which closes another Slam-(a)-Dunk of album from the Frenchman whose on a one man mission to keep this genre alive.  I for one hope it keeps on rolling and can't wait for albums 15,16,17!

Review by: Barry McMinn

 

Tracklisting:

1. Victim Of My Own Desires 
2. The Trail To Your Heart 
3. Dangerous To Know 
4. Angels Never Sleep 
5. Burning Rainbows 
6. The Sign Of Fire 
7. The Breaking Point
8. 99 Percent Chance Of Loving You 
9. Love Remains The Same 
10. The Wisdom Of Eve 

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