Jeff Scott Soto – Beautiful Mess (2009)

Jeff Scott Soto – Beautiful Mess (2009, Frontiers Records)

  1. 21st Century
  2. Cry Me A River
  3. Gin & Tonic Sky
  4. Hey
  5. Broken Man
  6. Mountain
  7. Our Song
  8. Eye
  9. Bring It Home
  10. Testify
  11. Wherever U Wanna Go
  12. Kick II
  13. Heart Starts Healing (bonus track)
  14. Take U Over With Me (bonus track)

Bonus DVD:

  1. 21st Century (video)
  2. Gin & Tonic Sky (video)
  3. Hey (video)
  4. Gin & Tonic Sky (Piano version) (video)
  5. What A Beautiful Mess (Promo video)

Musicians:
Jeff Scott Soto – Lead Vocals
Paulo Mendonca – Guitars, Bass, Drums, Keyboards, FX & Backing Vocals
Peter Strandberg – Drums
Karl Guner – Drums
Ben Carey – Guitars
Sammy Sims – Bass

Producers: Paulo Mendonca & Jeff Scott Soto

Total Time = 51:19

Country: USA

Jeff Scott Soto
Jeff Scott Soto MySpace page
Frontiers Records

If you’re a fan of Melodic Hard Rock, or early Yngwie Malmsteen, then Jeff Scott Soto should need no introduction. Since his debut on Yngwie’s 1984 RISING FORCE, Jeff Scott Soto has carved himself an excellent career fronting bands like Journey, Talisman, Takara and Axel Rudi Pell while maintaining his own personal solo career and tribute album collaborations. The hardest working singer in Hard Rock? Most likely! Definitely one of the most underrated vocalists out there, listen to any of his recorded projects and the vocals and writing are always top of the line. I have been following Soto since the first two Yngwie albums, over the years I picked up a few of his other projects’ albums, but it wasn’t until the late ’90s and the Internet age that I started to truly appreciate his talents.

Putting aside his Hard Rock and Heavy Metal notoriety, most fans wouldn’t know that some of the more direct musical influences on Jeff’s talents include Funk, R&B, Pop & Soul. No that would normally scare most Rock fans away but Jeff has been able to maintain a healthy balance of styles and has incorporated these different musical elements into his solo career.  One listen to BEAUTIFUL MESS and you realize this isn’t a regular Rock album…..it’s really not even a true Rock album, more a Pop and R&B album with a couple Rock songs mixed in. I read the reviews prior to this albums release and, I’ll be honest, I didn’t really think this would be something I would like, the whole R&B/Funk/Pop thing scaring me right off. I bought this back when it physically came out on CD (the album was released digitally in late 2008) back in February and I only started listening to it in November!

BEAUTIFUL MESS kicks off with a mid-paced, guitar driven Rock track ’21st Century’ that also includes some scratches, loops and a bit of a Funk vibe to it. Even though the song is more Rock there are definitely little details that signal a slightly different approach to Melodic Hard Rock. It’s a good song and regular JSS fans will like it’s melodic touch. ‘Cry Me A River’ is a slower ballad style song with a lot of Pop and Soul influences that definitely signals a whole new direction from your normal Rock style. Ballad #2 is the superb ‘Gin & Tonic Sky’, probably one of my favorite songs of 2009! This has mainstream chart success written all over it! It’s exactly the kind of ballad that Pop & Adult Contemporary audiences go for with a beautifully passionate vocal…..this is the true talent of Jeff Scott Soto. Following such a good song is a hard task and the acoustic based ‘Hey’ falls a little short with it’s very basic arrangement and instrumentation. It’s another great vocal from JSS, as are all the songs on BEAUTIFUL MESS, and the harmonies surrounding the chorus are top notch. Ballad #3 creeps in with ‘Broken Man’, acoustic guitars and solid harmonies, this could easily be a Southern Rock/Country song with some minor changes.

The album picks up a little bit with the mid-tempo, ’70s Rock/Funk hybrid titled ‘Mountain’. The song has some heavier guitar at the bridge and chorus but it’s mostly acoustic driven with plenty of funky keyboards and beats. Good song overall, has the fingers tapping and me singing along. ‘Our Song’ is pure Melodic Rock even though the drums sound too simple and dancebeat-ish during the verses. The song rocks up on the chorus and reminds me of some of Jeff’s work on his solo albums and with Talisman. ‘Eye’ is another mid-tempo Pop track that pulls out the Soul in Soto’s vocals and gets slightly heavier during the chorus but it’s not one of my favorites on the album, a bit too much of a departure from what I’m used to with Jeff Scott Soto. That said, ‘Bring It Home’ is a complete departure! ‘Bring It Home’ is pure R&B, there’s a slow danceable groove to it with some cool harmonies with backup singer Anna Maria La Spina…..the female harmony really compliments Jeff’s vocal style. How ‘Bring It Home’ isn’t on the radio is beyond me, it’s tailor made! Not my cup of tea but for some reason I like it. ‘Testify’ brings some well overdue Rock that reminds me of Jeff’s early solo work from LOVE PARADE (1995). Nice to hear a Rock song on BEAUTIFUL MESS, the lack of them makes them stand out more.

‘Wherever U Wanna Go’ starts off slow like a ballad but it starts to get heavier come the chorus but there are already enough songs on the album that follow a similar pattern. It’s a decent song but it sounds like the rest. Same thing with ‘Kick It’, it starts out slowly and builds as the song progresses to the chorus. It’s a mellow, acoustic driven Pop song that can easily be considered either a ballad or a mid-tempo track…..it sounds just like the rest of the tunes before it. If you picked up the actual physical CD from Frontiers Records then you get two bonus tracks: ‘Heart Starts Healing’ and ‘Take U Over With Me’. Both songs are melodic Pop Rock songs with ‘Heart Starts Healing’ leaning more toward Jeff’s uptempo style and ‘Take U Over With Me’ falling into that mid-tempo/ballad frame. Both songs are good with ‘Heart Starts Healing’ being the better of the two. Another bonus to the physical CD is the bonus DVD that includes four videos, including an excellent piano version of ‘Gin & Tonic Sky’, and a 20+ minute interview/making of documentary with Jeff.

Bottom Line:
I wasn’t sure what to make of BEAUTIFUL MESS when I read about it and I’m not really sure what to think about it now. I would say that I’m more a fan of the harder side of Jeff Scott Soto’s career but I definitely enjoy his more melodic solo albums as well. This new album is a departure from both and there are times where it’s hard to imagine that this is the same singer who belted out the Malmsteen classic ‘I’ll See The Light Tonight’! I find myself in a love/hate relationship with BEAUTIFUL MESS…..while I love the perfect vocals, harmonies and instrumentation, I could do without the samples, scratches and loops. While I like a good ballad or slow mid-tempo number, too many of them can make the album boring. While I like a mellow, groovy album to relax to, I prefer Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. Rating this album good or bad would have to depend on my mood: good if I want to veg & relax, bad if I want to Rock out. I have to give Jeff Scott Soto credit, he does what he wants to do and he is an amazing talent. BEAUTIFUL MESS will open some fans up to a new direction and alienate some others.

Favorite Songs:
’21st Century’, ‘Gin & Tonic Sky’, ‘Broken Man’, ‘Our Song’, ‘Testify’

Doro – Fear No Evil (2009)

Doro – Fear No Evil (2009, AFM Records)

  1. The Night Of The Warlock
  2. Running From the Devil
  3. Celebrate (*features guest vocalists)
  4. Caught In A Battle
  5. Herzblut
  6. On The Run
  7. Walking With The Angels (featuring Tarja Turunen)
  8. I Lay My Head Upon The Sword
  9. It Kills Me
  10. Long Lost For Love
  11. 25 Years

Band Lineup:
Doro Pesch – Vocals
Nick Douglas – Bass
Joe Taylor – Guitars
Johnny Dee – Drums
Oliver Palotai – Keyboards & Guitars
Luca Princiotta – Keyboards & Guitars

Guest Vocalists:
Tarja Turunen (Tarja, ex-Nightwish)
Biff Byford (Saxon)
Sabina Classen (Holy Moses)
Floor Janssen (After Forver)
Angela Gosow (Arch Enemy)
Veronica Freeman (Benedictum)
Liv Kristine (Leaves’ Eyes)
Ji-In Cho (Krypteria)
Liv (Sister Sin)
Kim McAuliffe, Jackie Chambers, Enid Williams & Denise Dufort (Girlschool)

Producers: Andreas Bruhn, Doro Pesch & Torsten Sickert

Country: Germany

Total Time = 47:59

Doro
Dor0 MySpace page
AFM Records

With all the emphasis, and success, being laid down at the feet of female-fronted Metal bands, it’s only right to call Doro Pesch the true reigning queen of Heavy Metal. Think about it…..most fans would give Lita Ford that title but her lack of output for a decade plus negates her claim. Doro continues to release new album, EPs, live CDs & DVDs and tour constantly, she is one of the hardest working artists in Metal and I think she never gets enough credit. I remember buying the first Warlock album (BURNING THE WITCHES) on tape back in ’84 after reading about the band and Doro in Metal Forces magazine and I have continued to follow her career as it’s continued past 25 years.

FEAR NO EVIL is Doro’s tenth studio album and it basically follows the same formula as most of her back catalogue: Teutonic styled Power Metal, a few power ballads, a track sung in her native German and a few guest appearances from other Metal stars. The subject matter is the same as other Doro releases celebrating the right to Rock and enjoy Metal music with anthemic songs like a Manowar or Accept would use, beautiful love torn ballads and pure Power Metal. Aside from the guests that play on her albums, the formula and the sound is usually the same. It works for other bands like AC/DC, U.D.O. and Saxon in their careers and it does for Doro also, the main difference is always the quality of the writing. FEAR NO EVIL follows the Doro formula with Metal anthems like ‘The Night Of The Warlock’, ‘On The Run’ and the standout ‘Celebrate’, a song that features Biff Byford, Girlschool, Floor Jansen and many more on guest vocals. These tracks and the rest of the faster tracks are basically what you expect and have heard before…..they are fast, they are heavy, there are great guitar solos and Doro’s vocals are powerful. The problem is that they all sound a bit too much like each other. I’m not saying the songs are bad, they are pretty good actually but there isn’t much variety. If you’ve heard a fast Doro rocker on her previous couple of albums, FIGHT (2002) & WARRIOR SOUL (2006), then you know what to expect on this record.

Where I think Doro shines is on the ballads. ‘Herzblut’ is the first ballad and is sung in German…..of course, I have no idea what the words mean but I can definitely say that Doro sings with great power and emotion. Same thing with ‘It Kills Me’, the performance (this time in English) is superb, Doro may be the reigning Queen of Metal but she also can sing love-torn ballads with plenty of emotion. The best ballad of the album is the duet with former Nightwish singer Tarja Turunen, ‘Walking With The Angels’. If you’ve ever heard Tarja’s voice then you know it’s beautiful and operatic so her performance is really good in a subdued way, she doesn’t go full opera on the lead vocals but just sings. Not to be outdone, Doro puts in a brilliant soft vocal as well and the two singers compliment each other perfectly. I also like the operatic backgrounds Tarja added. Definitely the best song on the album and my personal favorite.

The only major problem with this album is the mix. On the whole, I’ve listened to the album with headphones and it sounds good but when I’ve put the CD in the stereo I can definitely hear a problem with the way it was mixed. On most of the songs, Doro’s vocals sound more out front than the band, the instruments sound like they are played in the background. I would say that this happens on half the album and mostly on the faster songs.

Bottom Line:
FEAR NO EVIL is exactly what I expected from a new Doro Pesch album. There are plenty of Metal anthems to raise your fist and sin along to and there are also a few excellent ballads that showcase Doro’s more emotional side. It’s Power Metal through and through so if you’re not a big fan of the genre then you’re going to find the album repetitive and clichéd. I’m a big fan of Power Metal so I liked the album…..it’s when I compared it to some of Doro’s previous albums that I wanted a little more variety, songs that explored some new musical territory. For me the highlights were the three ballads with ‘Walking With the Angels’ being the best of the trio.

Favorite Songs:
”Celebrate’, ‘Walking With the Angels’, ‘On The Run’, ‘Herzblut’, ‘It Kills Me’

WANTED: Glenn Hughes – A Soulful Christmas (2000)

WANTED

Glenn Hughes – A Soulful Christmas (2000)

In keeping with the holiday season, I’m on the hunt for Christmas albums from Hard Rock & Heavy Metal bands. One of the greatest singers of all-time, and one of my favorites, Glenn Hughes, released this holiday album back in 20o0 on his own label – Pink Cloud Records. As with many independent releases, this CD was produced in limited quantities and it’s now out of print. The good news is that many of Glenn’s independently released albums, including A SOULFUL CHRISTMAS, is available for digital download at iTunes & Amazon. I’m a collector so I prefer to buy the actual CD but it ranges anywhere from $50-$150 on Ebay depending on the seller. That kind of price might force me to download my first album ever from iTunes! This isn’t a major priority to buy (yet!) so I can afford to wait and see if I can track down a CD at a decent price.

 

Cheap Trick – The Latest (2009)

Cheap Trick - The Latest (2009)

Cheap Trick – The Latest (2009, independent release)

  1. Sleep Forever
  2. When The Lights Are Out
  3. Miss Tomorrow
  4. Sick Man Of Europe
  5. These Days
  6. Miracle
  7. Everyday You Make Me Crazy
  8. California Girl
  9. Everybody Knows
  10. Alive
  11. Times Of Our Lives
  12. Closer (The Ballad Of Burt And Linda)
  13. Smile

Band Lineup:
Tom Petersson – Bass, Guitars & Background Vocals
Robin Zander – Lead Vocals, Guitars & Keyboards
Bun E. Carlos – Drums & Background Vocals
Rick Nielsen – Guitars, Keyboards & Background Vocals

Producers: Cheap Trick, Julian Raymond & Howard Willing

Country: USA

Total Time = 41:05

Cheap Trick
Cheap Trick MySpace page

Cheap Trick has always been one of my favorite bands. When I started listening to music on my small transistor FM radio (it was as big as a CD and as thick as a brick!), the one Rock station I could get always played this one song that I never forgot…..’Dream Police’. Now this is going back to 1979/1980 when I was 8 yrs old and that transistor radio was my lifeline for a few years until I bought my own stereo with birthday money and started buying cassettes and records and reading Circus and Hit Parader. I wouldn’t say I was the biggest Cheap Trick fan as a kid but, as I got older, I knew all the hits and I started to pick up the band’s albums. Turns out I have almost all of Cheap Trick’s records and each one is pretty good. Cheap Trick is just one of those classic rock band’s that continues to make great new music and release solid albums while maintaining a yearly touring schedule.

The band’s latest album, aptly titled THE LATEST, finds Cheap Trick doing exactly what they do best: playing catchy AOR/Melodic Rock with plenty of well written songs that are catchy, melodic and Rock! It’s a pretty simple formula really and the band has never strayed from it, their consistency and quality is what always grabs my attention. The opening song, ‘Sleep Forever’, is basically a quick minute and a half intro piece that features Robin Zander’s beautiful singing voice with an accompanying piano. It’s a simple and quiet song that seems a little out of place opening the record, it’s more of an intro than a song. ‘Sleep Forever’ ends and the band explodes into a great cover of Slade’s ‘When The Lights Are Out’. I must be softening my stance on cover songs because this is just a classic, catchy, melodic rocker that brings the stadium anthem right to the CD. Now this is a classic cut from Slade and it fits Cheap Trick perfectly. The next track is ‘Miss Tomorrow’ and it’s another good uptempo rocker that is very melodic and catchy and is backed by a string arrangement. One thing you notice right away is the cool harmonies the band always has on their songs, Rick Nielsen and Tom Petersson are definitely underrated in this area. Up next is the rocking ‘Sick Man Of Europe’. I was able to hear parts of this song live when I caught Cheap Trick open for Def Leppard and Poison back in late June. The song’s title is really the band’s original name before they became Cheap Trick and it’s a full on rocker with plenty of Nielsen’s signature guitar and Petersson’s thumping bass. Robin Zander proves that he can go from melodic crooning to balls out singing at the drop of a hat.

Slowing things down a bit, the band breaks into their first proper ballad with ‘These Days’ and it’s basically your standard Cheap Trick ballad, not bad but not a standout track. One thing that Cheap Trick isn’t afraid to admit is that they are influenced by The Beatles and the British Invasion of the 1960s so a song like ‘Miracle’ sounds like a John Lennon written/performed song. It’s a ballad and it also has this cool ELO/ quiet Tom Petty vibe to it as well. Actually, I can hear some similarities to Tom Petty’s ‘Into the Great Wide Open’ especially in the guitar tone. ‘Everyday You Make Me Crazy’ is a very quick rocker that clocks in at 1:27! Can you even call that a song?! It’s pretty standard Hard Rock fare from the band who are well known for some quick songs like this. ‘Everyday You Make Me Crazy’ moves right into another Beatles influenced track called ‘California Girl’. Actually, the song is a remake of Scotty Moore’s (Elvis Presley) ‘Bad Little Girl’ and it is an uptempo garage band style song that has that cool blues influence to it. Another Beatles influence shows up on the mid-tempo ‘Everybody Knows’, very Sgt. Pepper’s sounding, very John Lennon. It’s almost like a long epic, seeing that it’s about losing a ship at sea that’s as epic a topic that you can get I guess. It’s very trippy and mellow but the chorus has some kick to it and the guitars sound really cool.

‘Alive’ moves the band into their signature Hard Rock style with the guitars and bass right up front in the mix and the vocals definitely spot on. I like the keyboard flourishes that back up the guitar, it reminds me of my favorite ‘Dream Police’! The band moves back into the Lennon-esque mid-tempo balladry with ‘Times Of Our Lives’ and it’s a really cool mellow song that has cool guitar and excellent vocals. There really isn’t much to the song but for some reason it’s catchy and I really like it. Slowing things down even more is the ballad ‘Closer (The Ballad of Burt & Linda)’. It’s another Beatles influence with some psychedelic trippiness to it and it’s not one of my favorite songs on THE LATEST. It’s decent but not enough to keep me from hitting the <SKIP> button to the next song. The last track is ‘Smile’ and guess what? It’s ANOTHER ballad! Normally I would really complain about ending an album on such a slow note but ‘Smile’ is one of the better ballads on THE LATEST and, yes, it does have a Beatles influence but it sounds more like Cheap Trick than The Beatles. There are some good strings and piano backing the guitar and Zander’s vocals are strong as ever.

Bottom Line:
Like I usually am with new Cheap Trick albums, I’m not usually impressed when they are released and I usually take my time buying them. I bought this a few weeks after it came out and I admit that I underestimated the band again because this is one of the better albums of the year! There are a couple of quick throwaway songs…..but they are good. There are a couple of covers, normally a death sentence from me…..but they are excellent. There are a lot of mid-tempo tracks and ballads…..and most are beautifully done. The bottom line is that Cheap Trick has made another classic album and they continue to be one of the most underrated bands from the Classic Rock genre. I’ve played THE LATEST almost daily since I picked it up and I’m a little surprised that I’ve enjoyed it this much! Definitely one of the best albums of 2009…..I just hope more people pick it up and support the band on tour.

Favorite Songs:
‘When The Lights Are Out’, ‘California Girl’, ‘Smile’, ‘Sick Man Of Europe’, ‘Everybody Knows’

Johnny Lima – Livin’ Out Loud (2009)

johnny lima - livin out loud (2009)

Johnny Lima – Livin’ Out Loud (2009, Shock Pop Records)

  1. All I Wanna Do
  2. Wildflower
  3. Hate To Love You
  4. I’m On Fire
  5. Somebody To Love
  6. Caught In The Middle
  7. Gimme Some Rock So I Can Roll
  8. Livin’ Out Loud
  9. Still Waiting For You
  10. Long Way Down
  11. Hard To Say Goodbye
  12. ‘Til Love Is Gone

Musicians:
Johnny Lima – Lead & Backing Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Keyboards
Craig Takeshita – Lead Guitar
Bernie F. Diaz – Drums
Danny Danzi – Lead Guitar (2nd guitar solo on ‘Wildflower’ and solo on ‘Caught In The Middle’)
Christian Wolff – Lead Guitar on tracks 4, 5, 9, 11
Brandon Baumann – Backing Vocals on tracks 1, 2, 7

Producer: Johnny Lima

Country: USA

Total Time = 42:21

Johnny Lima
Johnny Lima MySpace page

As a fan of AOR and Melodic Hard Rock (MHR), Johnny Lima’s name has come up more than a few times. In the last 13 years, I’ve seen Johnny’s name mentioned not only as a solo artist since 1996 but as a producer for up and coming bands like Miss Crazy, Freakshow and Dirty Penny. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t really bother to check Johnny’s music out until now. I’m not sure why I haven’t come across one of his previous albums, I’ve read plenty of glowing reviews over the years saying how Lima’s music is full of classic ’80s Hard Rock influences and styles…..that’s the type of music I like! Imagine Def Leppard, Poison, and Bon Jovi in their ’80s heyday brought together, that’s the Johnny Lima sound. LIVIN’ OUT LOUD was released back in May but I didn’t pick it up until late July…..I have been enjoying it daily ever since!

Opening track ‘All I Wanna Do’ starts the album off sleazy and uptempo with KISS inspired lyrics and an early ’90s KISS sound, plenty of dirty guitar mixed with big harmonies and that ever present hook that sucks you into the song. That’s exactly how Johnny Lima gets you to keep listening, he sucks you in with a big ’80s party rock sound that is so catchy you can’t help but start to sing along. Second cut in is ‘Wildflower’ and this is one of the best songs Poison, Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Slaughter, etc never recorded. The main riff is your basic ’80s Hard Rock riff that catches your attention and leads you into the infectious chorus full of harmonies that would make the Leps proud. ‘Wildflower’ is like a combination of commercial Motley Crue with a Slaughter chrous and Leppard harmonies…..it sounds like a carbon copy of what came decades before but the music sounds fun and current, one of my favorites on the album. ‘Hate To Love You’ gets a little heavier despite the obvious keyboards following the main guitar. It’s still a melodic song with the big chorus and solos while Johnny shows he could easily step in vocally for any number of famous ’80s rockers.

If the first three songs on LIVIN’ OUT LOUD didn’t hook you then one listen to ‘I’m On Fire’ should easily do the trick…..it’s probably the best Bon Jovi or Def Leppard song those bands never recorded!  It’s another uptempo song but I’d say it’s a shade slower than the rest because of the thick basic main riff but you add the thumping bassline and catchy melody and you’ve got another winner. Definitely Bon Jovi influenced all the way through, Johnny even sounding more like Jon Bon Jovi than he does himself, but the harmonies on the chorus are pure HYSTERIA and ADRENALIZE era Lep. ‘I’m On Fire’ is my favorite song on the album and would have easily been a huge hit back in the day. Lima slows things down with the mid-tempo ‘Somebody To Love’ that recalls all the Pop Rock majesty of Def Lep at their love song multi-platinum success and then brings the harder Rock back with ‘Caught In The Middle’. I have to put ‘Caught In The Middle’ in with the rest of the uptempo rockers as far as influence but adding in some vintage non-makeup KISS for good measure.

Every album like this needs an anthem and Johnny Lima gives us just that with ‘Give Me Some Rock So I Can Roll’. The song pays tribute to the bands and music that made hard Rock what it is, name checking Motley Crue and SHOUT AT THE DEVIL, while critcizing the current trends of manufactured pop successes and the poor state of the industry. It’s another fast paced rocker that is pretty basic when you sit down and listen to it closely but it’s comes out so good because it’s so infectious with it’s hooks and anthemic chorus…..another album favorite. The title cut is a little slower, a little dirtier, a little heavier and Johnny does another Jon Bon Jovi/Vince Neil combo on the vocal with more Leppard harmonies. I like this song because it breaks away from the party rock somewhat and gets a little more gritty with a really heavy main guitar. The pace slows down to mid-tempo with ‘Still Waiting For You’ but the song still has a heaviness mixed with it’s melodic style…..this could easily have fit onto any of Bon Jovi’s albums since 2000 and been a HUGE hit. Seriously, put this out with the Bon Jovi name on it and the album goes platinum! It just proves that the industry has no clue because Johnny Lima outdoes Johnny Bon Jovi easily, JBJ should take notes!

‘Long Way Down’ moves back to the melodic Hard Rock that flows through this album and sounds just as good as the other songs even though it’s a little repetitive at the chorus. Remember Bon Jovi’s ‘Runaway’? Tell me ‘Hard To Say Goodbye’ isn’t it’s long lost brother! The song isn’t a pure copy but you can definitely hear the influence with that catchy keyboard line and Johnny Lima’s similar vocal sound. What sets this apart is the chorus, it’s not completely over the top with the harmonies like other songs, it’s just melodic and easy to sing along to. Another huge hit if the industry didn’t have it’s head up it’s ass! Closing out the album is the slower, mid-tempo pace of ‘Til Love Is Gone’ and it’s another song that follows the ballad boundary close but still has that heaviness and slightly quicker pace to keep it from pure ballad.

Just a quick note here…..I’ve been listening to the album as I’m writing this and I’m picking up the influences from some of the big names in Hard Rock (Def Lep, Bon Jovi, Crue, etc.) and I’ve been hearing Johnny’s similar vocal style to some of these iconic frontmen and it just dawned on me that there is a huge similarity between Tony Harnell (T.N.T./Westworld) and Lima. I’m listening to ‘Til Love Is Gone’ and I’m trying to place the sound because it sounds so familiar and that first Westworld album immeadiately came to mind.

Bottom Line:
Hands down this is one of the best albums of the year! I’ve had this album since July and there hasn’t been a day that has gone by that I haven’t played it! LIVIN’ OUT LOUD has that big ’80s Hard Rock sound that I grew up with and it sounds completely fresh in 2009. You’ve got all these big name bands, these big ’80s/’90s successes, that are afraid to revisit their old sound, their classic sound, and then you get a talented independent musician like Johnny Lima and he blows them out of the water. Seriously, bands like Poison, Bon Jovi and Def Leppard should be taking notes and fans of these bands should be picking this album up. The songs are all about having fun, rocking out, falling in and out of love and they are all catchy so you immeadiately start singing along, playing your air guitar and rocking out! Now I have to go and buy up all of Johnny’s previous albums at his website because if they are as good as this record is then the money is well spent. Don’t be surprised if you find this at the top of my Best of list for 2009.

Favorite Songs:
I like every single song, not a weak track on the record. If I had to pick a couple of ultimate favorites…..’I’m On Fire’ and ‘Wildflower’.