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Monday, January 7, 2013

Chasing Violets ‘Outside Heaven’ album review

Chasing Violets ‘Outside Heaven’ album review
Released on: Perris Records. Release date: Available now.
For those that don’t know and I understand there may be many of you, Chasing Violets are a wonderful band / project, fronted by two great singing talents in sisters, Sarah and Melissa Fontaine.
It is also a project with large input from AOR master Frederic Slama who wrote most of the songs on here with the exception of just three, two written by Sarah and Melissa and the other co-written by Sarah, Melissa, Frederic Slama and Daniel Fontaine.
Frederic Slama also plays guitars, keyboards and produced the whole album too.
The album also features a massive input from a considerable who’s who of various global AOR musicians including the likes of Tommy Denander (Guitars), Paul Sabu (Various instruments / vocals), Michael Landau (Guitars), Bruce Gaitsch (Guitars), Robert Sall (Guitars / Keyboards), Philip Bardowell (Vocals), Goran Edman (Vocals), Eric Ragno (Keyboards) and so many more!
Obviously though, the main focus lies on the vocals talents of Sarah and Melissa Fontaine and talents they are indeed!
I know you expect me to draw some sort of comparison to others and yes, I do hear some comparisons and they are good, but you check them out for yourselves folks, as they are certainly special. Very pleasant on the ears!
Opening track ‘I Can’t Love No More’ is very piano / vocal driven indeed, yet still punchy pop / rock and reminds me of many other artists. Perhaps vocally quite poppy indeed, but musically very AOR indeed which is why I think it’s so appealing.
The two vocals work so well together, they really do.
‘No Margin For Error’ brings a cross over musically not unlike say Toto meets Mr. Mister, very smooth and once again, even with piano quite prominent it has edge to it.
OK, if I were to mention some similarities vocally perhaps some Belinda Carlisle, Pat Benatar, maybe Issa at times too overall the album and the music that accompanies these smooth vocals is equally slick.
On ‘The Price To Pay’ Goran Edman (John Norum, Yngwie Malmsteen, Brazen Abbot, Street Talk) shares the lead vocal duties to mix things up a little, but again takes nothing away from the girls vocals. It’s very well mid to up tempo delivered pop / rock and nice guitar solos thrown in too!
The only thing I would say that may throw some people throughout the album, is that since English isn’t Sarah and Melissa’s first spoken language or Frederic’s for that matter, sometimes when you’re listening, you’re trying to understand the words in places, you realize that it’s just down to the phrasing which in fact throws a different appeal at you too.
‘When The Darkness Falls’ has one of those great intros that throws / pans the sounds from one channel (Speaker) to the other, great with headphones of course.
It’s certainly an up tempo number, that’s starts with a perhaps heavier Duran Duran like sound, before getting into a very AOR like strong chorus. Love it! 
Joining Sarah and Melissa on ‘Voices in the Wind’ is AOR vocalist Dane Donohue, who I really know very little about except for one solo album of his from back in 1978 …
It’s a smooth laid back and steady AOR / pop style track, that brings things down a bit.
‘Above Suspicion’ features Goran Edman once again, helping share lead and backing vocals, brings the tempo back up some, with Goran’s vocals complimenting the girls vocals well too.
A character I used to like quite a bit from his days with Kidd Glove and Sabu, Paul Sabu plays and arranges everything on the title track next, ‘Outside Heaven’ as well as singing backing vocals too just to add his stamp and once again a great vocal delivery from both Sarah and Melissa and it’s quite an epic AOR style track too.
This is actually the first time I’ve heard Paul Sabu’s contribution to anything since the 80’s and I actually really like this, if his voice sounds a little different, not bad, but different and Paul’s solo too is very tasty indeed!
‘Hold Back The Dawn’ next is another enjoyable track and this time Jerry Hludzik (Dakota) shares lead vocal duties and there’s nice guitar work here from both Tommy Denander and Michael Landau. Class!
The only thing I would say, is the album sleeve notes name the track ‘Hold Back The Dawn,’ yet the song title is sung as ‘Hold Back The Down?’
A little strange so I don’t know if it’s a typo or something else? Still a great track though.
Next up, Tommy Denander adds a little more stamp here, as he plays every instrument on ‘No One’s Gonna Hurt Me Anymore’ and also is responsible for the arrangement too. Another nice mid paced melodic pop rocker …
‘A Hole In Paradise’ features vocals shared with Philip Bardowell (Magdalen) and it’s a really smooth, slick laid back ballad, multi-layering to great effect throughout and I really love Michael Landau’s guitar solo too and yes, Sarah and Melissa once more sound just right!
Beautiful stuff!
Frederic Slama and Tommy Denander share most of musical and song credits next on ‘You’re My Obsession’ here, with both guys credited with guitars and keyboards, Frederic’s song and Tommy’s arrangement.
It’s a steady pop rocker that just falls well in place with everything else here.

‘Cease Fire’ is another more laid groover, although it’s nice, I would say my only complaint at over six and a half minutes, this one actually does start to repeat itself a bit and become a bit repetitive, as there’s no real bridge or any real changes to make more of it’s length.
Closing track ‘Just Want To Be Your Heroin’ is a nice tasty rocker, that actually sounded a little Van Halen like as it starts and this is the only solely Fontaine written song here and I don’t if the players here are the live band or not, but Christian Tolle’s guitar work is very complimentary indeed and the musicians playing here, sound great together!
Credit also here to Morris Adriaens (Keyboards / Backing Vocals) and drummer Miri Miettinen too, as combined together I’d say this last track is a clear standout, out and out rocker, love it! Great album closer!
So overall, an album review wrapped after spending a weekend listening mostly to Saxon, which Chasing Violets really couldn’t be further removed from!
I would certainly say that both Sarah and Melissa Fontaine DESERVE a great future ahead of them.
Perris records is obviously a very low key label, but all power to them for getting this out there.
It’s a very enjoyable album, capturing AOR, Pop / Rock, smooth ballads and rocks out as well, I do like it and you should check it out too folks!
Rating: 4 out of 5