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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Chasing Magic – Debut album review

Chasing Magic – Debut album review
Released on: Kivel Records. Release date: Available now

Chasing Magic is the brainchild of singer / songwriter / drummer / keyboard player Jason Pawlak, backed in fact by two other members of the guys’ family! Jason’s Dad, Dennis Pawlak on backing vocals, lead, bass and rhythm guitars and brother Trevor Pawlak is present on rhythm guitars also and backing vocals.

Due to certain limitations and a desire to make this Jason’s own work, the production duties have fallen squarely his way as well, with mixing and mastering shared jointly between Jason and Dennis.

Jason released his debut, self financed solo album under the name Jace, called ‘Stolen Season’ back in 2005, he’s since gone on to co-write with certain bands in the melodic rock arena, such as Far Cry, Goodbye Thrill and Tango Down and yes, you would be right – if you know – that these are all indeed bands signed to the Kivel record label. Clearly though this has worked as all those bands have put out some very good material. Two of the songs from that original release, have also been redone here in 'Fine Line' and 'Edge of Goodbye.'

Opening track ‘World is Wide ‘starts with a building guitar effect and vocal cry and then wham!
This is a tasteful rocker with a good sound and lots driving this, powerful guitars, driving bass and drums and lots of vocals, especially in the chorus.
It rocks in a classic style not unlike say Night Ranger or Shooting Star’s harder styles, so yes, you guessed it plenty of melody here.

‘Room to Run’ starts with a nice harmony guitar part before the main song kicks in and it’s almost in say a Boston style song, once again plenty here going on. Well done guys!

For next song ‘The Corners of My Mind’ it seems the production takes a slight swing from what we hear in the first two opening tracks. It’s a slower paced track and I still feel that the song is strong and with the right production behind the band, I think these guys could reach out to a much wider audience, as the playing ability across the board is clearly very good indeed.

When ‘Same’ kicked in I thought something was seriously wrong with the recording, as it starts with the sound of a record player stylus dropping onto a vinyl record for a couple of chord progressions, with the volume down low before it kicks in loud and clear, be warned! This rocks again generally in a manner not unlike say some of Night Ranger’s recent heavier sound, the chorus is again very strong as this mid-paced rocker hits home.

‘Angelina’ rocks with a certain urgency, a little punky, but still melodic which it’s hard not to be with Jason’s lead vocals.
At times I’m almost reminded of Thin Lizzy in this track musically, there’s a certain something to it that again really grabs the listener. Really love the guitar work on this.

A change in pace next with the power ballad ‘The Edge of Goodbye’ and hopefully these guys aren’t offended, but I wonder if British readers that hear this are equally reminded of Judie Tzuke’s ‘Stay With Me ‘Til Dawn?’ It’s familiar to a degree in sound and structure, although I’m quite certain there’s probably very few people here in the States that would have a clue who I am talking about. It’s a good song another that with a slightly different production could possibly be a big success with some radio play behind it.

‘Bad Reputation’ starts with another big rocking intro, with a more laid back melodic verse and this is another one that I think sounds great here. Overall sound works well, production good enough, very strong song with great harmony vocals. Perhaps the guitar solo could’ve been punched up a little more, but not much. Steady rocker overall, well done.

There’s a bit of a nod towards Bryan Adams I’d say with ‘This Time’ – And no it’s not the B.A.’s song of the same name! – It’s a punchy pop rocker. Enjoyable!
I know that ‘Fine Line’ is one of Jason’s favourite songs and the intro is one of those big harmony guitar starts that sounds a little familiar, not unlike perhaps April Wine’s ‘Just Between You and Me.’ It’s a strong melodic mid paced, semi-power ballad. Again, one where the production would benefit from a big name involved.

Although I’ve given mention to the production of the album, it’s still a very good song driven album with very good material here and to be honest, the biggest problem perhaps for these guys, is being involved with a smaller label where it seems the budget just isn’t there to put a little more into it.
i.e. Pulling in a more experienced producer / sound engineer.

‘Have It All’ starts with some funky bass and a solid rock drum beat before some seriously riffing guitar kicks in and a strong spirited verse, with a steady tempo and then pre-chorus starts to pick things up before a catchy, multi-vocal chorus kicks in. The song soon shifts up a gear though as it hits a bridge and it all steps up a notch seriously nice guitar riffing, tasty solo, some driving bass and drums before getting back into the main song. This is really the album ‘epic’ track if you will. Very well done guys!

Closing track ‘Too Many Roads’ starts with a guitar intro that is right up the classic Bon Jovi alley, no question, before the song then switches into say a big old Chicago style power ballad, very tastefully done.

I will say that Jason’s voice is pretty unique and he really doesn’t remind me of another vocalist – That comes to mind. – so I won’t and can’t pigeon hole the guy – Good job mate! – so give this album a chance folks or at least check him out through the Facebook page or website.

You know, I’ve heard a few people say they are not that enamored by this release but I have to tell you that, without question there are some very strong songs on here and there are no doubts in my mind about the playing ability on show here and for the most part, the production is plenty good enough. Is that consistant?

The songs and musical talent yes, the production / mix, it could be better but for anyone to say this is all nothing more than demo quality, you couldn’t be further from the truth! Those people should try listening again.

I certainly like this album and it’s quite likely if you like melodic rock that touches on say Night Ranger, Def Leppard (Not the over produced sound, but songs.) mixed up with a classic rock vibe, you might just enjoy this too!
Rating: 3.75 out of 5

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