album reviews‎ > ‎

Tara's Secret - Vertigo

posted 25 Jul 2011, 05:42 by Paul Woodward   [ updated 25 Jul 2011, 11:33 ]
(Black Cat Music)
Midlands based rockers Tara’s Secret formed in 2003, and have had a few line-up changes in the rhythm section, but the core of the band founder member Craig Chapman (Guitar), Johnny Trowbridge (Vocals) & Richie Beardsley (Guitar) has remained constant. Now having survived drummer issues of Spinal Tap proportions and a split in 2007, Tara’s Secret are BACK! Joining TS for their 3rd album is Dave Deaville (Bass/Keys) & John JT Thomas (Drums). Although the band were on the look out for a label, the band decided to take full control and release the album through their own label Black Cat Music.

The band has taken some stick over the years, a lot due to the band evolving and improving in the public eye, but they have constantly looked to improve aspects of their musicianship based on the criticisms. We shall leave their 2004 debut “Spectrum Wheel” firmly in the past as a band testing the water and to be honest not making much of a splash, it’s not a body of work that I care for. With the release of “Tomorrow the World” in 2006, which was a far superior effort in the song quality and performance, they started to wake a few people up to the Secret. The band had come on leaps and bounds, but an album which was very mixed in style may have left a few people cold but showed the potential and talent within.

As 2009 came to a close we got their third album, Vertigo. This see’s the band finally mature and find their “sound” with a far more cohesive collection of songs. Everything about TS has improved, from the lyrics to the singing to the playing and it all shows on the best British rock album of 2009! If you weren’t a fan before, you should give the band a chance as Vertigo is a very different album to what we’ve heard before.

Stylistically TS has shown everything from Prog to Blues Rock in the past - this time around we get a fantastic raw and dirty Melodic Hard Rock album with massive Classic rock tendencies. The band has always been able to deliver big choruses and hook’s galore and they deliver abundantly again. This is definitely the heaviest set of songs the band have given us, but without sacrificing killer melodies and still managing to retain their AOR tendencies to create songs with power and melody. This time they use keyboards and harmonies in a far more subtle way than in the past, and it works tremendously well, without distracting from the rawer sound of the music.

Although the heavier stance of TS mark 3 does at times have a darker edge, you still get the fun time rock n roll on tracks like “She’s My Baby”, “Wildest Dreams” & “Shake What Your Mama Gave Ya!” which features a guest vocal performance by cult Black Country singer Adrian Marx (Plain Jane) - all will leave you singing along with huge smiles on your faces!

Probably my favourite song on the album is the classic rock fused and inspired “Promises”, which links a great set of lyrics with a great riff groove and an instant ‘in your face’ chorus. Imagine the bastard lovechild of late 70’s early 80’s UFO & Rainbow - only better!

The band also show real quality when mixing classic rock riffs and AOR melodies with big choruses - especially on album opener “Rock N Roll Beauty Queen”, “Vertigo” & “Natural High (Rain Of Love)”. They all have instant sing-along choruses with music full of swagger and will surround you in wave of harmonies, they are sure to impress even the most miserable music cynic!

Sue Willets of Dante Fox duets with Johnny on heartfelt ballad “Last To Know”, which takes the song to a whole new level and it’s a real coup for the band to get someone as talented as Sue to guest on their album. It takes what would have been a decent ballad and turns into a far more powerful and instant song, some great subtle use of cello on this tune as well. I’m a total Sue Willets fan boy and I don’t care!

“Homeland” another ballad has been with the band a long time and is Johnny’s tribute to his “Homeland” of Australia. It is obviously a song with personal meaning for Johnny and his performance on this song is one of his strongest. I heard the song live back in early 2007, and was totally under whelmed at the time, but the song has evolved and now has a very atmospheric feel and sound to it. Definitely a song for those who yearn for “Home” wherever that may be….

Runner for potential LIVE favourite has to be the infectious & quirky “My Reward”, it has a great up-tempo riff and a great swagger that’ll will have you raising your hands and nodding your heads. I know you won’t believe me, but you’ll definitely find yourself singing the following line (especially in a live setting!) - “I’ve been a damn good dog, so baby, where’s my reward?” Seriously you’ve been warned as this song has probably one of the most instant choruses!

I saw TS support Danny Vaughn (Tyketto) last December and I was totally blown away by their performance of probably the most powerful ballad the band have ever done, “One Last Chance”. Whilst the song is musically sparse, it’s a very raw and emotional song which uses subtlety to full advantage to create a very intense song. Although it is just Dave’s piano and Johnny’s vocal’s, there is great use of harmonies and a fantastic cello refrain. If this doesn’t touch you, you’ve got a heart of stone as this is the sort of ballad most bands would kill to be able to write! IF the guys sold this to Simon Cowell it’s got number 1 slapped all over it!

This is probably the best British Melodic Hard Rock Album that has been released in the past decade; it has everything with killer groove laden riffs and infectiously catchy melodies and choruses. Do your ears’ a favour and get VERTIGO! Britain’s best kept Secret is here, are you ready?

Track Listing: - Rock ‘N Roll Beauty Queen / She’s My Baby / Natural High (Rain of Love) / The Last to Know (feat. Sue Willets) / Promises / Vertigo / One More Chance / My Reward / Shake What Your Mama Gave Ya! (feat. Adrian Marx) / Homeland / GTBR / Wildest Dreams

Album Rating: - 5/5
Woody’s Essential Track: - Promises

Vertigo is OUT NOW from all good retailers &
£2 from every sale goes to the Breakthrough Breast Cancer charity.

For Midlands Rocks