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Chasing Violets - Jade Hearts

posted 2 Jul 2013, 09:51 by Paul Woodward
(AOR Records)

Review by Woody

French sisters Sarah and Melissa Fontaine return with their band Chasing Violets for their second album Jade Hearts. Again the sisters have surrounded themselves with some well known melodic rock musicians most prominently is Frederic Slama of AOR (the band) but we also see contributions from Tommy Denander, Paul Sabu, Goran Edman, Bob Harris and Mikael Erlandsson.

After an impressive debut of west coast inspired songs we see the Violets go in a slightly heavier but more straight ahead melodic rock direction. It sees a real step up in class in song quality, with the sisters pulling out all the stops to deliver a quality slab of traditional inspired melodic rock in every department. I’ve never hidden the fact I’m a sucker for female vocalists and with the Violets you get two! One of the big advantages to this is it allows for some interesting and very strong vocal harmonies, interplay and backing vocals.

Sarah and Melissa also deliver some really strong performances which totally outstrips their debut with ease. They don’t have stereotypical female rock vocals, deep and gritty; they have a higher range and a slight pop edge which allows for some delightful vocal melodies and some outstanding vocal moments!

It’s is slightly heavier but mainly in the fact the guitar presence is turned up a notch with more emphasis on crunching guitar riffs and adding some power to the choruses. Don’t worry the Violets haven’t gone metal! The Keyboards may seem more toned down, but not greatly to my ears, Jade Hearts may be less keyboard driven but some of the best hooks on the album come from subtle keyboard licks. If you give the album a few spins these will become more apparent to you!

Jade Hearts is not a throw away album and is more thoughtful and deep, don’t expect songs about the sunset strip and getting drunk with strippers. So anyone looking for something a little more substantial musically this album could satisfy your needs!

Opener ‘The Main Attraction’ is an upbeat rocker with a memorable chorus. Along with the classy vocals and killer keyboard hook the driving guitars give this track a real impact. ‘Web Of Lies’ will hit you instantly with its strong chorus. It’s the crunching guitar riff which really drives this upbeat rock home though. Mid-tempo rocker ‘A Shot In The Dark’ has a cool chorus that sticks with you. It may seem a less obvious track on first play but all the hooks are there and this will become a firm favourite.

My personal favourite ‘Silent Victory’ I loved from the first time I heard it. It contains some wonderful keyboard work that hooks you into the song and the upfront guitar lick drives it home. For me this is one of the tracks where Sarah and Melissa really sound amazing especially on the melody drenched chorus. ‘Deception In Heaven’ is a driving rocker with a forceful chorus. This song shows a darker heavier side to the Violets. Title track ‘Jade Hearts’ opens with a killer guitar lick and whenever it rears up in the song it hooks you in! The big pressing chorus hits you with a bang; it’s the keyboards that ensure this chorus is memorable.

Upbeat rocker ‘Secrets In The Shadows’ is driven by some big keyboard’s and contains some sweet vocal inter play. I Love the keyboard intro to ‘Hollow Triumph’, this driving traditional melodic rock song is another of the less obvious ones but the keyboard and guitar hooks really capture you good! I also like how this builds to really enjoyable climax! ‘Exile In Sadness’ is a track that really sneaks up on you and by the time you hit the west coast flavoured chorus it becomes an instant hit.

The dark and driving mid-tempo rocker ‘The Scarlet Nymph’ has some emotive vocals from the Fontaine sisters and in the main see’s them going in a deeper rock style vocal. ‘Halo Of Light’ is a powerful rocker with a strong harmony drenched chorus. The album close’s with ‘I Owe It To Myself’ a Robin Beck style rocker with a killer chorus and strong guitar edge.

There isn’t a single duff track on this album and there’s plenty for fans of melodic rock and AOR to enjoy. Also if you’re a fan of female vocalists this one is definitely for you as the Fontaine sister’s dual vocals create an intriguing and enjoyable sound. You can’t go wrong with a bit of Jade Hearts it’s full of big keyboards and even bigger guitar hooks with thoughtful lyric’s, its rock for grown up’s!

Track Listing: The Main Attraction / Web Of Lies / A Shot In The Dark / Silent Victory / Deception In Heaven / Jade Hearts / Secrets In The Shadows / Hollow Triumph / Exile In Sadness / The Scarlet Nymph / Halo Of Light / I Owe It To Myself

Album Rating: 8/10

Woody’s Essential Track: Silent Victory