CD Reviews

Rocha - 'Unum' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     January 11, 2018    
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Nine catchy tunes with plenty of hooks and strong melodies.

Rui Rocha is a new name to me, but clearly, he's very well connected as the guest list for this album reads like a who's who of AOR and West Coast music. On guitars there's Jeff Paris, Michael Landau, Michael Thompson and Tim Pierce which is a stellar line-up on its own, but add to that Jimmy Haslip and Matt Bisonette on bass, Marco Minnemann on drums, plus Dan Reed and Paris putting in appearances on backing vocals, and that's just naming a few. It also has Keith Olsen in the production/mixing chair who has worked the likes of Magnum, Foreigner, Whitesnake, Saga and Heart amongst many others. Consequently, both the playing and sound are of the highest quality. The song-writing delivers nine catchy tunes with plenty of hooks and strong melodies. Lead vocals are down to Jeff Pescetto whose history includes many film soundtracks and working with AOR legend David Foster.

Cutting to the chase, if you're a fan of Frédéric Slama's AOR albums, or those by Peter Friestadt, Jay Graydon and Venice, then this will undoubtedly be right up your boulevard. There's nothing new on offer but when is there in the AOR genre?

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Spoiler alert, there is one track here, 'The Other Side Of Paradise', which has a piano refrain and chorus that are rather too close for comfort to a certain Journey classic, right down to the vocal phrasing and indeed the lyrics. 'Another, Heartbreak', reminds me of the fabulous Venice, while 'Lies' is a jaunty opener with saxophone setting the tone; it also features a wonderful guitar solo. 'I'll Keep Holdin' On' is pure West Coast AOR with its catchy chorus and terrific guitar solo – I wish the liner notes told you who played on which track.

'Fallin'' is a ballad and again it reminds me of something but I can't put my finger on it, and 'Back Into My Heart' has a heavy-ish guitar intro but settles down thereafter. The verses of 'Stop Bringing Me Down' bring Venice to mind again with its Hammond Organ inflections, while 'Love Of My Life' has a chorus that burrows into your brain in an instant. Closer 'Hold On You' starts with a piano flourish which has a feeling of being something Rocha is proud of and wanted to get on to the album somewhere. Again, the chorus is AOR to a tee.

Gary Marshall

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