album reviews‎ > ‎

Charming Grace - Charming Grace

posted 13 Aug 2013, 15:01 by Paul Woodward
(Avenue Of Allies)

Review By Woody

Charming Grace is a project put together by songwriter Pierpaolo Monti (Shining Line) and singer Davide Barbieri (Wheels of Fire). The concept was to create a traditional melodic rock album with a duet with Davide on every song, so this album contains a lot of guest musicians and vocalists. Some of the real shock duets include David Forbes of Boulevard, Bente Smaavik of Blonde on Blonde and Henrik Launbjerg of Toys of Joy.

It’s a really classy collection of well written traditional melodic rock with some stellar guest performances. It is unashamedly old school and it’s instantly memorable and has a really cool summertime vibe to the entire album. The album is a real labour of love for Pierpaolo and Davide and their passion for this genre of rock overwhelms every single track which has been lovingly crafted in a traditional melodic rock mould.

I have to admit when I heard the concept behind the album was to have it full of duets I was a little sceptical thinking the album could seem disjointed and too mixed up to have an impact. Thankfully I was very wrong and all the duets have been composed really well to keep an overall identity which keeps the album flowing nicely and all the duets are blended really well to complement and enhance every track.

I became a big fan of Pierpaolo’s song writing style and lyrics with his Shining Line project and he doesn’t disappoint here. In my interview with him he admitted that he had received some criticisms for his phrasing in the past. Lyric’s in the world of AOR has always received a lot of criticism for been cheesy and full of clichés, but I actually find Pierpaolo’s lyrics far more poetic and relatable than many of the big names of the genre. He really does try to make his lyrics as emotional and passionate as he can and it’s that passion that connects with me.

The album actually opens with one of my favourite songs of the year ‘Everytime You Touch My Heart’ a sing along beauty which is collaboration with the guys from VEGA. Nick’s vocals compliment the song stunningly and Tom’s guitars are recognizable and enjoyable and a nice little piano solo from James is rather awesome! This song is the epitome of AOR!

It may be a bonus track but the cover of Belinda Carlisle’s ‘Leave a Light On’ is another highlight for me, I really like guest vocalist Aure’s voice and she really suits this beefed up version of the song. The deeply emotional ‘Through The Stars’, ‘The Sound Of Your Heart’ and ‘The Way You Feel Inside’ are also tracks that genre fans must check out!

Charming Grace hasn’t reinvented the wheel here, but this is thoroughly enjoyable soft rock album with some killer choruses and memorable songs that will stick with you for a long time! This has to be a must for all AOR aficionados!

Track Listing: Everytime You Touch My Heart / The Way You Feel Inside / Shining Light / Just Take My Hand / Close Your Eyes / Still Dreamin’ / The Sound Of Your Heart / Everybody’s Broken / The Answer Was You / Run Away / Through The Stars / Endless Flame / Bring My Life Back / Leave A Light On

Album Rating: 9/10

Woody’s Essential Track: Everytime You Touch My Heart

Track By Track:

Album opener ‘Everytime You Touch My Heart’ kicks proceedings off with an almighty infectious sing along beauty. This collaboration with the guys from VEGA is without doubt one of my favourite songs of the year. ‘The Way You Feel Inside’ is a duet with Moon Calhoun and it’s a bright and breezy summertime AOR rocker. David Forbes (Boulevard) duets on beautiful ballad ‘Shining Light’ and it’s great to hear Forbes again especially on a track not far removed from the sound of his iconic band.

Brazilian Gui Oliver of Auras is on hand for ‘Just Take My Hand’ a real feel good song with a beautiful AOR chorus. ‘Close Your Eyes’ is an emotion driven song with a strong chorus. Thomas Lasser of Crystal Blue guests on atmospheric ballad ‘Still Dreamin’.

Joyful rocker ‘The Sound of Your Heart’ features another of my favourite Italian musicians Alessandro Del Vecchio. This track really harks back to the genre’s heyday, big, bright and uplifting! Next is a cover of Bon Jovi’s ‘Everybody’s Broken’ but they have changed the arrangement and turned into a more traditional melodic rock sound and it works so well, it’s another highlight for me with big upfront keyboards that I adore.

There are three duets with female vocalists ‘The Answer Was You’ is the first with Blonde On Blonde’s Bente Smaavik. It’s a melancholic ballad with a great piano performance, a very emotional song. The second is ‘Run Away’ with Jesse Galante a driving rocker with some very enjoyable hooks. ‘Through The Stars’ makes a big impact and is very catchy, a real ode to traditional melodic rock. The lyrics are quite deep and emotional but the song has a real air of positivity around it.

‘Endless Flame’ features Toys Of Joy man Henrik Launbjerg, a sweeping mid tempo rocker with a nice flow to its hooks and a cool guitar solo from Sven Larsson. The emotional piano led ballad ‘Bring My Life Back’ features Kimmo Bloom of Urban Tale. Finally a cover version of Belinda Carlisle’s ‘Leave A Light On’ with a duet with female vocalist Aure and it’s a cracking version and I’m huge fan of the original. It’s got a driving dance floor energy and I really appreciate Aure’s voice on this track!