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Melodic Rock Round-up: April 2012

Dave Ling on new releases from Jeff Scott Soto, House Of Shakira, Jack Blades, Angeline and AOR

Jeff Scott Soto: Damage Control

The title is of course a tongue-in-cheek reference to Beautiful Mess, a genre-hopping experiment into terrain inhabited by Lenny Kravitz, Seal and Prince. The album was critically acclaimed back in 2009 but bombed commercially, so now the New York-born singer is trumpeting what he terms: “A return to what my fans would expect to hear from me.” Damage Control is actually a notch heavier than some may have expected, an alternative special edition adding bonus material deemed a little too robust for the AOR-friendly brief issued by the singer’s record label – perhaps no real surprise given Soto’s background in heavy metal. It’s certainly a broad-based set, the anthemic hard rock of Give A Little More and Damage To Control juxtaposed by the luxuriantly mellifluous If I Never Let Her Go, Die A Little and How To love Again. The lip-trembling power-ballad BonaFide also reveals a guitar solo from Y&T’s Dave Meniketti, just one of several guests including Treat’s Jamie Borger and Nalley Påhlsson, Casey Grillo of Kamelot and Night Ranger’s Joel Hoekstra. (810)

House Of Shakira: HoS

Till now this band were best remembered for a classic but now 15-year-old debut and a worrying tendency for line-up changes. The arrival of former solo artist/Mind’s Eye singer Andreas Novak appears to have galvanised the Swedes who, despite an occasional tendency for modern-sounding, detuned riffs (Changes In Mind), hit the bullseye with the Van Hagar-flavoured Zodiac Maniac. (710)

Jack Blades: Rock ’N’ Roll Ride

After the decades of hits as a member of Night Ranger and Damn Yankees, as well as his partnership with Tommy Shaw, most aficionados can now identify a Jack Blades-composed ditty from 100 paces. Rock ’N’ Roll Ride rarely bucks this trend, from the sun-bleached swagger of Love Life to the hook-enriched groove of Born For This and the shimmering beauty of Hardest Word To Say. (810)

Angeline: Disconnected

Swedish quartet Angeline spent an unlikely 23 years conjuring up their debut album, Confessions, but just 18 months later they’ve followed it with this engaging slice of Def Leppard, Europe and Nickelback-affected arena rock. Angeline are sometimes guilty of succumbing to fan-like exuberance (Falling Into You is way too Jovi-esque) but it’s looking as though they’re here to stay. (610)

AOR: The Colors Of LA

Compiled with the usual selection of special guests, here’s another West Coast banquet from the impeccably well-connected guitarist and songwriter Frédéric Slama. Players include Steve Lukather, David Foster and Tommy Denander, with vocal cameos from former Unruly Child mouthpiece Philip Bardowell and Newman’s Steve Newman. No doubt about it, Slama is a master of his craft. (810)