Frédéric Slama's AOR - 'Return To L.A.' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     July 23, 2015    
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Frédéric Slama knows full well how to make a perfect album.

With thirteen critically acclaimed albums under his belt, French musician and producer Frédéric Slama has already been accepted as an institution in Melodic Rock. Early 2015 sees him continue to cement this status once again by releasing the fourteenth album under his project entitled simply but aptly AOR.

'Return To L.A.' has been eagerly awaited in Melodic Rock circles, with the names of the contributing artists creating quite a buzz among the listeners – especially those of Jesse Damon (Silent Rage), Paul Sabu (Only Child and Kidd Glove) and of course Tommy Denander. Overall, the direction '...L.A.' takes is quite similar to its immediate predecessors rather than the first albums Slama recorded under the AOR moniker. Whereas the early ones were rooted closer to a West Coast style, the majority of songs on the new AOR album are embedded in heavier, slightly feistier Melodic Rock sound aesthetics.

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From the three tracks Sabu belts out flawlessly in his characteristic, raspy voice ('Victim Of My Own Desire', 'The Sign Of Fire', 'The Wisdom Of Eve') to the fabulous contribution by Damon ('Angels Never Sleep', 'The Breaking Point'), it's simply a collection of keyboard-laden, guitar-driven anthems embroidered with catchy, well-crafted choruses. 'The Trail To Your Heart' (sung by Tommy Funderburk of Airplay and King Of Hearts) and 'Dangerous To Know' (with Rick Riso of Chasing Violets) follow the very same recipe with the melodic, mid-tempo '99 Percent Chance Of Loving You' (featuring Bob Harris – Axe, Steve Vai) being perhaps only slightly mellower. There are a few moments on 'Return...' when the sound goes really soft, corresponding somewhat with the sound found on the early AOR albums. The musical background to Erika Norberg's (Yngwie Malmsteen) sensual, dreamy voice in ballad-esque 'Burning Rainbows' therefore tastefully blurs boundaries between West Coast/Lite AOR and Pop music, while the duo of Fontaine sisters (Mélissa and Sarah – Chasing Violets) embellish the melancholic ballad 'Love Remains The Same' with a perfect vocal harmony.

Even though 'Return To L.A.' is the fourteenth album by Slama's AOR, it is perhaps his best to date – striking the right balance between Melodic Hard Rock up-tempos and West Coast ballads all the while aided by the undoubted strength of this particular line-up and the immaculate production. In other words, all elements that contribute to the album's quality are in place here, the short span of time between this CD and its predecessor having no influence on quality whatsoever. Practice makes perfect, they say – and one can be sure that the fourteenth time around, Frédéric Slama knows full well how to make a perfect album. This new effort he has released – of course with a "little help from his friends"– is proof of this fact.

Alexandra Mrozowska

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