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Friday, August 16, 2013

Chasing Violets – 'Jade Hearts' album review

Chasing Violets – 'Jade Hearts' album review

Released on: AOR Records   Release date: Available now
Sarah and Melissa Fontaine are main ingredient that ultimately is Chasing Violets.

Indeed their melodic vocals, with their strong French phrasing, sometimes comes across as a little different perhaps for some people making their material difficult to gravitate towards. The thing is – IMHO – people should give it a chance as their last release, ‘Outside Heaven,’ I really enjoyed.
Review link:

That said, it seems there is another driving force behind the band in Frederic Slama, who for me I am not sure if it’s just a case that he writes the majority of their material – He did on the last album. – or that he somehow manages the band ...?
Maybe it's that this is released on his AOR Records label that gives him overall say / control.

Whatever the case, he plays guitar, keyboards, sings and has produced both the first and this latest album 'Jade Hearts' by Chasing Violets.
Sorry Frederic, but this one just doesn't come across as strong as the first one.

Opening here with ‘The Main Attraction’ which is quite punchy AOR and the comments I have made before on the phrasing of words by Sarah and Melissa Fontaine is sometimes hard to accept for some people, as French is their native language, but I personally think it’s what makes it all the more different / unique.
One thing on this track where I was a little surprised was going into the chorus, the lead vocal seems to sound a little flat on the line, “Show me your love, Tell me the truth,” sadly to me it just doesn’t sound right. :(
Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the first album, but on an opening track where the listeners first assessment is focused, perhaps not so good.


I do wonder if this album was perhaps a little rushed in its production / mixing, because having played the first album back to back with this, I feel – IMHO - the first album seems to have better overall production / mixing control.

‘Web Of Lies’ without doubt comes across stronger to me song wise, although the guitar solo’s don’t sound clean and they almost come across rushed to me. Shame …
I am at more of a disadvantage review this album than the first, as the first album I got a physical copy, with all the sleeve notes on who played what on which track. This time around I only got the MP3 download and the press release, which put simply doesn’t tell you more than all the guests that appear on the album, but not what they contribute.
I am also not 100% sure on here whether it’s Sarah or Melissa singing which song …
It does tell the reviewer that the album was written and produced – In its entirety? – by Frederic Slama
That’s disappointing to me, as I liked the songs on the first album that were written by or had contributions from both Sarah and Melissa.
Next song, ‘A Shot In The Dark,’ is clearly a duet I think with Frederic Slama, put simply I do not like the second vocal. It sounds kind of whiney and perhaps too forced … Frederic?
Doesn’t this track’s main chord progression also sound like a certain song on Bon Jovi’s first album …?!
The song itself is OK for me, but I really do like the guitar solo into the synth solo, that really works well. Nice.
‘Silent Victory’ comes across like it wants to be perhaps a little darker, but the overall production / mix of the album, and this is according to friends I played this to, to try and help spread the word on Chasing Violets sadly got frequent comments that each song sounds much like the one before.
I guess the more I think about it, the songs are very similar, wonder if this one was perhaps rushed to get out there?
Whatever the case, I do personally like this track.
With ‘Deception In Heaven’ at the start the guitar almost reminded me of Dare, but then it got back into the groove of the album’s previous tracks.
This one for me seems to sadly be a bit of an average track, not really grabbing me that much and perhaps it’s because of the similarity, repetition of songs here.
Title track, ‘Jade Hearts’ is next and I do like it, although it is as are many of the tracks here, just very similar to one another. I do hear it myself now ...
The first album now I’ve played it right alongside this one, does seem to have a little more variety or should that be depth, about it. Nice!


‘Secrets in the Shadows’ is yet again driven by the very '8o’s like synth sound at the start and the same familiar sound throughout.
It’s a mid-paced track, which is really the nature of the whole album, but then towards the end of the song, there’s a ripping guitar solo and then the drums pick up double time, to finish up.

With ‘Hollow Triumph’ it’s much the same tempo, on a duet with …, well, sorry I don’t know?!
No details in the accompanying press release of who duets on which song, really does not help at all.
The duet works and once again, the musicianship here is slick, I just wish the overall album had a little more variety in the songs.
OK, next up comes ‘Exile in Sadness’ which brings the pace down just a little, but it’s not quite a ballad.
It kind of reminds me a little of an AOR style Corrs track. A little more Pop / AOR, but the rhythm does seem to become a little repetitive perhaps. It’s OK.
The intro to ‘The Scarlet Nymph’ sounds almost like a laid back ‘Cum On Feel The Noize!’Then there’s some guitar that sounds a little like Paul Sabu, but again while I know he’s on the album somewhere, and since I haven't heard his playing in some time, with no details tell me who plays on which track?
The track doesn’t come across very strong to me and the chorus doesn’t sound strong either.
This album is really a little disappointing to me as a follow up the very enjoyable ‘Outside Heaven.’
‘Halo of Light’ is another duet track and it starts with a heavy synth driven intro and there’s definitely a little more edge to this track and the chorus sounds good, but the pre-chorus does seem a little like it waivers a bit.
Nice guitar work!
Final track ‘I Owe It To Myself’ starts with some heavy guitar power chords, then a little lead in solo too.
Edgy chords drive the verses and the chorus … Oh boy, does this sound like ‘Jane,’ the Jefferson Starship song in terms of the chorus guitar chords. Ah well …
    So, overall then, there is something endearing about Chasing Violets that really impressed me with ‘Outside Heaven,’ I think something has got lost since then, either that or this album was kind of rushed through the stages of its recording, mix and final production.

There’s a lot of well played material here, but I don’t think the final song presentation is as good as their last album and each song doesn’t have so much individuality as the last one.
I hope the third album can get better balance and a better end result,
Rating: 3 out of 5