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AOR – ‘LA Darkness’

posted 17 Mar 2016, 11:00 by Paul Woodward

(Escape Music)

Review by Woody

AOR is basically French multi-instrumentalist and song writer Frederic Slama and with his AOR albums he is an extremely prolific writer releasing albums frequently. One of the big draws to Slama’s albums is he always assembles a great cast of guest musicians and singers and in many cases this can mean a rare treat of hearing some vocalists you haven’t heard for a while or singing some straight ahead AOR.

AOR is old school west coast flavoured AOR and Slama knows this genre like the back of his hand and he has composed some really memorable genre tracks over the years. With each AOR album you know can buy with confidence as he writes consistently strong albums and more importantly enjoyable albums and you know you’re always going to listen to some decent tracks and LA Darkness is no exception. The only downside to Slama been so prolific and staying within his chosen sound/style is occasionally some tracks sound familiar to previous album tracks. I know Slama sometimes recycles early compositions but déjà vu does kick in sometimes.

There album has an uplifting summer time feel throughout LA Darkness and for fans of west coast AOR this should be the perfect accompaniment to their summer sunbathing this coming year! Slama delivers plenty of melodic guitar licks and hook filled guitars and his guests belt out some really memorable vocal melodies. I’m a big fan of Slama’s writing style but I do have to admit it’s the high profile guests that always intrigue me and when they deliver to it makes for repetitive listening.

He’s pulled in the likes of Jeff Scott Soto (you’ll not here him singing this style very often!) Steve Overland of the legendary FM, Kevin Chalfant, Paul Sabu, Jesse Damon and Phillip Bardowell amongst his guest vocalists. The vocal performances on the album as a whole are top quality and established fans of these musicians should appreciate their songs on this album.

Steve Overland delivers a soulful vocal performance on ‘The Locked Soul’ and this smooth AOR number really hits all the right spots with me. ‘Heart In Pawn’ is one the big highlights of the album with its infectious keyboards and killer chorus, it is definitely one of Slama’s finest and most instant compositions yet. ‘Dangerous Fascination’ is another little gem with a great performance from Paul Sabu which takes us back to Sabu’s early recording career. The album closer ‘Burning Rainbows’ is a trippy laid back instrumental which Slama flexes his guitar playing skills on and should appeal to proper old school west coast fans.

Slama has again given us a great slab of AOR with an uplifting feel just in time for the summer. He isn’t reinventing the wheel but he knows how to write AOR like he wrote the song writing handbook for the genre. Established fans will love this and enjoy what the guest vocalists bring to Slama’s songs.

Track Listing: The Smartest Girl In LA / The Locked Soul / One Foot In Heaven / Blueprint for Love / Desire Turning Into Dust / Heart In Pawn / Seven Storms / Why Girls Say No / Dangerous Fascination / Burning Rainbows

Album Rating: 8/10

Woody’s Essential Track: Heart In Pawn