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Overland - 'Epic'

posted 12 Mar 2014, 17:24 by Paul Woodward   [ updated 12 Mar 2014, 17:24 ]
(Escape Music)

Review by Woody

FM front man Steve Overland is back with his third solo Overland album of pure AOR! It features the mixing and mastering and lots of tinkering by Brummie guitar legend Mike Slamer and some co-writes with the likes of Tor Talle, Street Talk Keyboard god Frederik Bergh and the albums main guitar player Christian Wolff.

I’ve enjoyed all of the Overland albums and the promise of delivering pure AOR has always been fulfilled. In Epic Steve has given us another delicious smooth dose of pure AOR with a delightfully slick and polished production thanks to Slamer! An undeniably solid album stuffed to capacity with keyboard hooks, unforgettable guitar licks, big choruses, big vocal harmonies and its smile inducing feel good rock n roll!

Overland has never sounded better as he does here, he has an extremely smooth and evocative vocal style and some of the vocal melodies and lines here are unforgettable and they will make you tingly all over. The early FM similarities are there obviously but it’s not retro or imitating past glories, Epic is well written and constructed mature AOR for a modern day audience. Guitarist Wolff keeps proceedings from been too saccharine with enough guitar crunches to keep it rocking and you'll hear some of the most awesome melodic guitar licks you’re ever likely to hear. Although keyboardist Bergh is only a guest and co-writer on a couple of tracks, I have to highlight his undeniably phenomenal contribution here and his keyboard licks and performance is intensely enjoyable. We need more BERGH!

I really enjoy the feel good factor to this album; you just can’t help but feel lifted by it. Lyrically it covers the usual bases you’d expect in this genre and in my case NEED and it does touch on darker subjects but it never drifts into a dark depressing ambience. So you will find yourself singing along and dancing to most the tracks here. That’s what I want from an AOR album something that touches and handles a lot of emotions but never gets caught up in darkness and missing the power and emotive strength of a sweeping positive melody.

It may only be because Slamer is involved but I do detect some Steelhouse Lane mixed in with the early FM, which is damn cool with me, but Steve’s solo albums do very much have their own identity and will appease those who like Steve singing in a more traditional AOR vein. Another thing I love about the album is how multilayered and lush the sound is with every instrument throwing in a catchy hook at every possible moment – Epic never relents in its attempts to draw you into its warm all encompassing embrace.

Epic is slick commercial radio friendly goodness that is sure to make all AOR fans jump for joy.  I highly recommend playing this album very loud and naked, although this is optional of course, but the smile this album gives you isn’t so you better get used to it!

Track Listing: Radio, Radio / If Looks Could Kill / Stranded / Rags To Riches / Liberate My Heart / Down Comes The Night / If Your Hearts Not In It / Rock Me / So This Is Love / Wild / The End Of The Road / A Time For Letting Go

Album Rating: 9/10

Woody’s Essential Track: So This Is Love

Track By Track:

‘Radio Radio’ is a slick commercial rocker with a feel good factor – Big chorus, Big harmonies, Big smile! ‘If Looks Could Kill’ has a monster chorus with a killer keyboard lick. A delicious rocker with some sublime vocal melodies from Steve O! ‘Stranded’ is a smooth, slick rocker with drive. It has lots of cool vocals and has a strong feel of a mix of Steelhouse Lane and FM.

‘Rags To Riches’ has a harder swagger to it with a pumping chorus. Ballad ‘Liberate My Heart’ has some cool sweeping vocals from Steve O. It’s very emotive with a killer keyboard lick from Bergh on the chorus, which is intensely memorable. ‘Down Comes The Night’ has pumping keyboards, a driven guitar hook and it’s catchy as hell. An instant hit with a big ass sing along chorus.

There is a great sweeping feel to ‘If Your Heart’s Not In It’; it has some great hooks especially the keys – A summer time feel. ‘Rock Me’ is a groove rocker with a smooth edge and some cool guitar licks from Wolff. You want an AOR anthem? You got it – ‘So This Is Love’ this one has the lot, pumping Keys, driven hook filled guitar licks, emotive vocals from Steve O at his best and a massive sing along anthemic chorus!

‘Wild’ is driven commercial rock with some great keyboard hooks and a wonderful bright and breezy smile inducing chorus. ‘The End Of The Road’ has an epic feel – in a Magnum style – a song which builds to a slick, smooth and enjoyable chorus.