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OVERLAND Break Away Escape Music (2008)


Steve Overland, Britain's great hidden vocal talent, has certainly been prolific recently. In the past year both his main projects Shadowman and The Ladder have released albums, and FM reunited to rapturous acclaim at last year's Firefest. So the timing of his first solo album comes as something of a surprise.

I was also fully expecting it to showcase Steve's soul, blues and classic pop influences but instead this is probably the purest AOR release he has lent his name to since FM's classic 'Indiscreet' debut, with the likes of After the Fire, Heartache Calling (featuring label mate Steve Newman) and my favourite track Lost in Paradise marked by slick, melodic choruses. Like a River shows off his trademark soulful warble, while Alive and Kicking calls to mind the Mr Big song of the same name in places.

The supporting cast of musicians, mainly from Scandinavian pomp rockers Grand Illusion and multi-instrumentalist Anders Rydholm in particular, provide a backing of super slick and slightly funky AOR, reminiscent of Toto, Raised on Radio-era Journey, or even the obscure classic from the Distance, the collaboration between Robert Hart and Robert Palmer's backing band.

However the sound feels somewhat disjointed, giving more an impression of his lending guest vocals and lyrics to someone else's album (for proof check out the guitar solo in Break Away, utterly out of context with the rest of the song). Moreover, although the man's vocals are as velvety smooth as ever, the rather clinical musical style perhaps does not bring out the full depth and passion of his voice.

Steve Overland adds a touch of magic to everything he is involved in, but this won't go down in my eyes as his finest moment.


Review by Andy Nathan

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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