Review by Woody
It feels a little weird approaching this review following the untimely and tragic death of Brett Walker literally a few weeks ago. I know this will influence a lot of reviewers to listen to this album with rose tinted ears and announce Straight Jacket Vacation a modern day classic. I’m going to approach my review like I would any other, putting aside Brett’s extremely sad passing, as I think this would be more respectful to his memory. Brett was a very popular song writer in melodic rock circles even though he has very little solo work to his name and he will be greatly missed.
Straight Jacket Vacation is a laid back acoustic driven soft rock album, one I’m sure Brett was very proud of and quite rightly so. It is a very enjoyable album but I have to add that it is far from a classic. I think any melodic rock fan that approaches this album with the right expectations of some quality singer songwriter heartfelt Americana is really going enjoy this collection of songs. It’s hard define the sound of the album as Brett has mixed some different quality’s into his songs, some have modern country twists, some a southern rock edge and others even a touch of West Coast. It makes some of these pop rock edged songs really quirky and this sense of quirkiness may put AOR purists off.
Brett has a really rich vocal and his style really suits this style of mellow acoustic driven rock. There are many little influences in there but the bands that tend to come to mind are bands like the Gin Blossoms, Del Amitiri and the Goo Goo Dolls, there’s a sense of modern pop rock edge to the album as a whole.
There are a few songs which failed to make a big impression on me, but the ones that do are really memorable. Brett has done a re-working of his AOR anthem ‘Waiting For Love’ which he co-wrote for Alias back in the day. It actually works really well, stripped down a little and sparser but it’s a real stand out track here and that killer chorus still gives me chills! There is constant feel good ambience to most of the songs which I really like and I highly advise people check out songs like ‘Better Than Goodbye’, ‘Reaching For The Stars’ and ‘So Happy’.
Straight Jacket Vacation is not a perfect album but contains some really enjoyable tracks. I’m sure fans of Brett’s song writing will be kept very happy by it and it is a cool epitaph of the man’s talents. If you like acoustic driven soft rock with a mellow laid back side to it this album comes highly recommended. R.I.P Brett and thanks for the music!
Track Listing: Reaching For The Stars / What About You / Better Than Goodbye / Streetlight Burning / I’ll Bet It Hurts / More Than I / Good Enough / Waiting For Love / I’m Gonna Fly / So Happy / Unlucky At Love / Someday I’m Gonna Be Famous
Album Rating: 7/10
Woody’s Essential Track: Better Than Goodbye
Track By Track:
The acoustic driven up tempo ‘Reaching For The Stars’ has a feel good atmosphere to it. ‘What About You’ is a mellow track with some cool guitar hooks a real laid back rock number. ‘Better Than Goodbye’ is a feel good up-tempo track with a really catchy chorus.
‘Streetlights Burning’ is a quirky pop fused song. Another quirky track ‘I’ll Bet It Hurts’ a mellow track with some modern country twists. ‘More Than I’ is an upbeat song which puts me in mind of the Gin Blossoms.
‘Good Enough’ is a mid tempo ballad which is followed by one of the albums stand out tracks ‘Waiting For Love’. ‘I’m Gonna Fly’ is a cool upbeat track with a big harmony filled chorus.
The feel good ‘So Happy’ is a mid tempo track with a slight West Coast feel to it. ‘Unlucky At Love’ is an acoustic driven upbeat track with a laid back memorable chorus. Album closer ‘Someday I’m Gonna Be Famous’ is a laid back acoustic number with some southern rock touches to the chorus (Lynyrd Skynyrd anyone?!).
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