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Last Autumn's Dream - 'Paintings' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/ac/5f/76/last-autumns-dream-paintings-93-1478459739.jpg Hot

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A very proficient album from a band who rarely disappoint.

If it's Scandinavian/European AOR that tickles your fancy, then you could do a lot worse than this bunch of well-established musicians. Since Last Autumn Dream's conception way back in 2003, they have (despite several line-up changes) released no less than twelve albums – if that isn't impressive then you're obviously a member of the 'Status Quo Board of Governors'!

Having said that, there is a fine line between prolific creativity and habitual regurgitation; too much of a good thing can often lead to the product becoming somewhat diluted. However, with Mikael Erlandsson (vocals), Peter "Pac" Söderström (guitars), Nalle Påhlsson (bass) and Jamie Borger (drums), plus Ulf Wahlberg (keys and production), one thing is almost guaranteed – you will get an album that sits comfortably in the upper echelons of AOR; chock full of melody, the occasional guitar flourish and lyrics that warm the cockles of your heart.

I must admit, I'm not a Last Autumn's Dream devotee, but I've listened to a large percentage of their discography, and 'Paintings' seems to sit alongside their most reputable output. That's not to say the opus is flawless – very few albums are these days – but there are more than enough songs to get your feet tapping, fingers drumming and vocal chords flexing.

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For instance, 'My Mistake To Make', 'Out Of Love' and 'Too Late' are almost perfect AOR ditties with addictive sing-along choruses, led by the unmistakeable, husky vocals of Erlandsson and driven by an unassuming rhythm section; these tunes are undoubtedly "radio-friendly". 'Too Late' is particularly outstanding and the use of a saxophone alongside Söderström's guitar outro just puts the icing on the cake.

For reasons unbeknown to yours truly, the band decided to put a cover version right at the heart of the album – but worry not, as REO Speedwagon's 'Take It On The Run' is treated with respect and delivered with paramount panache. Aside from the AOR-fest, there are a couple of slightly darker, Rockier tracks in 'Bring Out The Heroes' and 'An Eye For An Eye'. The only negative issue with 'Paintings' is the final few songs; I wouldn't call 'Bitter Blue', 'In Case Of Landing On Water' and 'Rock Star Crazy' fillers, but they do lack the charisma of their predecessors.

All-in-all, a very proficient album from a band who rarely disappoint.

Dave Crompton

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