Review by Woody
Shadowman are something of a super group featuring Steve Overland of FM on Vocals, Steve Morris of Heartland on Guitars and Keyboards with the Thunder rhythm section Harry James (Drums) & Chris Child (Bass). Watching Over You is the band’s fourth album produced by Steve Morris and mixed by Tommy Hansen.
Given the line-up of Shadowman I have always kept an ear out for their albums and their unique blend of Blues and AOR. Although to be honest all their albums are a tad average, 3 or 4 songs that are awesome and the rest been distinctly unremarkable, therefore making the albums as a whole average. It seems that the two Steve’s have hit a rich song writing vein this time around, with definitely their most complete and satisfying work so far. They have taken all the elements of the best songs from the previous albums and combined them to deliver a solid overall album. The band does have some VERY and I do mean VERY slight hints of Heartland and “Dead Man’s Shoes” era FM, but nonetheless should appeal to fans of those bands with their unique bluesy AOR sound.
As you’d expect Steve O’s vocals are perfect as per usual and his smooth velvet type vocals seem to suit the blues and definitely the shadowman songs fantastically. With their been a lot of Steve Overland music about at the moment, FM, solo, Shadowman and the upcoming Ozone (featuring Heartland vocalist Chris Ousey) you could feel it may be a little overkill, but Shadowman are distinctively different to his other projects to make this a worthwhile purchase with a different feel to it. Having said that given the loyal fan base Steve O has I’m sure they want even more from the man, with top notch vocals like his it’s great to see the man so busy!
It would be nice to see this band live although I fear the members other projects will always prioritize their time, shame really as I think the band could win over a whole new audience in the blues live circuit audience!
Opening cut “Across The Universe” has a funky retro vibe in the verses with a smooth chorus that has a melancholic ambience to it. It was very nice to hear a Hammond organ solo albeit unexpected!!!! “Renegades” is probably the heaviest song the band has ever done. It see’s the band put pedal to the metal with a harder rocking feel and Steve O’s vocals shine on the hard edged chorus. Melancholic ballad “Cry” has some cool guitar work from Steve M and it has a wonderfully albeit sorrowful chorus. Steve O’s legendary vocals are stunningly emotive; I love the melodies and lyrics on this track immensely.
Title track “Watching Over You” has shades of Heartland to it. It’s a blues edged mid tempo rocker with a fantastic AOR chorus that see’s Steve O’s vocals shine again. “Are You Ready” has a bluesy rock and roll sway to it and a chorus Bad Company would love to do! “Suzanne” see’s Steve M deliver some killer guitar work, layering guitar hooks and licks with an upfront slow riff to great effect. The pure AOR chorus has Steve O excelling on some great and remember able vocal melodies.
“Waiting For A Miracle” is 70’s blues complete with a Hammond organ. It’s one of the weaker songs on the album in my opinion but should appeal to fans of Dead Man’s Shoes era FM. “Stop Breaking This Heart Of Mine” is possibly the bands greatest song ever. The AOR chorus with its bluesy swagger see’s Steve O on top form. There is a real melancholic vibe to this mid tempo rocker and it contains some awesome guitar licks from Steve M. An Absolutely amazing song with a wonderfully emotive ambience to it! “Heaven Waits” is a slow burning blues cut which fails to grab me and for me is the weakest song on the album.
“Whatever It Takes” is a great example of the band at their best and what they are about stylistically. This song see’s the band at their most commercial and catchiest with a hook laden AOR chorus that will stick in your head and a wonderful guitar riff from Steve M. “Justify” is a blues rocker which see’s Steve M lay down some awesome guitar riffs and has a blues fuelled chorus. “The Party’s Over” has a quirky attitude and really puts me in mind of Thunder in a lot of the guitar playing and the songs overall vibe, although Steve O’s smooth vocals soften the feel of the song especially on the chorus.
If you liked Shadowman’s previous output I assure you you’re going to LOVE this! The band’s wealth of talent has finally given us the album which their talents suggest they should. A release that should appeal to blues rock fans as well as the obvious AOR fan base, and if you like both genre’s their brand of Blues AOR should have you twitching with joy.
Track listing: Across The Universe / Renegades / Cry / Watching Over You / Are You Ready / Suzanne / Waiting For A Miracle / Stop Breaking This Heart Of Mine / Heaven Waits / Whatever It Takes / Justify / Party Is Over
Album Rating: 4/5
Woody’s Essential Track: Stop Breaking This Heart Of Mine
Watching Over You is out now and available from all good retailers and www.destinyrocks.com
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