Alyson Avenue

1. Liar
2. Will I Make Love
3. Changes
4. Amazing Days
5. Don´t Know If Love Is Alive
6. Fallen
7. Into The Fire
8. I Will Be Waiting
9. I´ll Cry For You
10. Somewhere
11. Always Keep On Loving You

Arabella Vitanc : Vocals, bg vocals
Thomas Löyskä : Bass, guitar
Fredrik Eriksson : Drums
Tony Rohtla : Guitars
Niclas Olsson : Keyboards, bg vocals

Presence of Mind (2000)
Omega (2004)

Michael Bormann : Vocals and background vocals on ”Will I Make Love”
Anette Olzon : Background vocals on ”Liar”, ”Into The Fire”, ”Always Keep On Loving You”, ”Fallen”
Rob Marcello : Guitar solo on ”Changes”
Fredrik Bergh : Keyboards on ”Don´t Know If Love Is Alive”
Chris Laney : Background vocals on ”Amazing Days”
Mike Andersson : Background vocals on ”Liar”, ”Somewhere”, ”Changes”, ”Don´t Know If Love Is Alive”, ”Into The Fire”, ”Fallen”, ”I´ll Cry For You”, ”Always Keep On Loving You”
Tommy Stråhle : Background vocals on ”I´ll Cry For You”

Gregor Klee : Executive Producer
Produced by Alyson Avenue
Mixed and co-produced by Chris Laney @ Laneyland
Mastered by Classe Persson @ CRP Recordings
Raimo & Sanna @ Photo by Gedda (bandphotos)

Released 2011-06-10
Reviewed 2011-06-24

avenue of allies

Changes. I can't help but feel Alyson Avenue has at least somewhat referring to themselves with the title on their new album since it's happened a lot in this band during the seven years that's passed since their last album was released. After their last release the vocalist left the band for Nightwish, fully supported in her choice by the other members, and left in the band was three guys that now didn't really have a plan for what they should do. After some consideration, y settled with the choice to find a new female voice for the band and this resulted in Arabella Vitanc, a "hidden Swedish jewel" as the band themselves call her. So here is the third album from the "alcoholic anonymous" and this 45 minute long self baring album should be good considering what an ensemble of people that's been working with it.

As the band announced their new vocalist they said she would make both old and new material justice and "have key part in the development of the new songs". It's pretty big words when you say a new vocalist will do the old material justice when a great vocalist like Anette Olzon has left the band, but Anette has contributed with her voice on four of the eleven songs on this album so we're not free from her completely yet even though she's referred to the backing vocals here. However, this is enough to make these songs feel just a tiny bit better than most of the others.

The first reaction I got from Daniel when he heard this material was about Arabella and her voice, which he didn't like. I'm prepared to agree with my dear old brother, she doesn't have the best voice I've heard and it is quite special with the nasal and almost forced most of the time, which - of course - makes it sound pretty strange. We can take the second song as an example, the duet she sings with Michel Bormann (whom we mainly know from Jaded Heart) where it sound like Arabella has swallowed a marshmallow, which she can't either swallow nor caught up. Imagine how that sound! Honestly, I think she sounds pretty decent most of the time, especially when she goes up in pitch and sing the high octave notes because that's the only time she really can fascinate you completely. As soon as she goes down in pitch it starts to sound false and irritated, she articulates mediocre and - as I said - her voice sounds quite forced through.

Overall, I actually think Arabellas shortcomings are quite representative for this entire album. From time to time they shine like stars in a dark universe and tie us up like we were cattle ready for the slaughter house, only to lose us in the next moment because of a slip knot, and the band have to start chasing us back in all over again. This cowboy and cow-game keeps going from start to finish and finally it ends up in the concluding ballad Always Keep On Loving You. What's been best on the way are the introducing song Liar, Amazing Days, I Will Be Waiting, Into The Fire and Don't Know If Love Is Alive. The main problem though is that this album doesn't have anything that stand out, nothing that wants to be seen and nothing that wants to be noticed. Everything is so rightly putted together and polished and made flawless to perfection by rewriting and remaking it to be exactly as the schoolbook say it should be without making anything dramatic. The keyboards come in so perfect that it's almost annoying. They wait until the vocals tune out and then ends just as they're about to begin. It's never a second too early or late, which would have given it some character, not it's just like the bass too - it sounds like a teacher in music has bought a bass and then without modifications just play it exactly the way the rhythm demands it to be played. It doesn't win any awards because no one wins awards without bending the rules at least somewhat and just keep the rhythm because in the ends that just makes it sound quite uninteresting.

The positive comes from the melodies in the songs I've already mentioned. In those songs the choruses are catchy and easy to sing along with, and this makes the somewhat dull and sterile music less apparent. But when Alyson Avenue (or AA as I've started to call them) isn't succeeding to make it more catchy than how most of the songs sound, it just isn't as exciting in the long runs.

'Changes' could have been a big change for this band, considering their vocalist change and seven year gap between the albums. Unfortunately, it isn't. The album just feel too "corrected" and "normal", not at all creative, sensational or different. I can listen to the album and I like the best songs but overall it's something that just isn't living longer than a reality show contender. Not very long... indeed.


Label: Avenue of Allies/Connecting Music
Three similar bands: Nightwish/Heart/Xandria
Recensent: Caj Källmalm
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