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Tuesday 20 December 2022

Reviews: Sabu, Nevena, Tarmat, Tommy DeCarlo (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Sabu - Banshee (Frontiers Music Srl)

I thought this was Sammy Hagar...I really did, Paul Sabu is a dead ringer vocally to the Red Rocker but Sabu has been performing for three decades, mainly in the melodic rock/AOR genre. Banshee is his sixth Sabu album but the first since 1998. Collaborating with Barry Sparks (ex-Yngwie Malmsteen, Michael Schenker Group, UFO, Dokken, and Ted Nugent) the two of them play everything here along with producing and engineering it. Sabu is something of a sensation having been a part of AOR heroes Only Child while also having produced/engineered many massive names like David Bowie, Alice Cooper and others, it's his own musical style that's on show with Banshee

That musical style is driving melodic rock, with Sammy Hagar, Billy Squier and Tesla all coming through on the first two songs alone. These comparisons continue throughout the album on Kandi, the big rocking Skin To Skin which even has touch if DLR to it as well. We also have the electronic and synthy sounds on Love Don't Shatter and Back Side Of Water, the silky AOR of Turn The Radio On throwing it back to his early days. Banshee is melodic rock record guided by two experienced hands, hopefully there won't be such a long wait until the next Sabu album. 8/10

Nevena - Nevena (Frontiers Music Srl)

Known to many as part of the Frontiers signed The Big Deal, Srdjan Brankovic discovered vocalist/pianist Nevena Dordevic, introducing her to the label who have teamed her up with guitarist/producer/songwriter Michael Palace for an album 80's rock that is similar to that of label mate Chez Kane and legends such as Lita Ford, Lee Aaron et al. She's a Serbian music teacher who sings, writes and plays as well as appearing on the first series of "First Voice Of Serbia" and studying at Berkelee College Of Music to hone her craft. 

With Frontiers and Palace behind her, Nevena has released a rock record with big bouncy choruses, riffs that have an 80's shimmer somewhere between Whitesnake and Van Halen, which are Palace's speciality. There's some tender balladry on Miracles where Nevena's vocals are restrained and beautiful. There's a strong pop inclination too on the punchy You Two, the Leppard-like Fire In Me and the thumping danceable Outrageous. On this debut album Nevena has set the bar high, so I'll be looking forward to the next one. 8/10

Tarmat - Out Of The Blue (Frontiers Music Srl)

Brazilians Tarmat signed to Frontiers Music for their debut album and they are pretty the peak style of music for the label soulful AOR that is on the lighter side of things as they shift from Boston and Toto into other 'Yacht Rock' alumni such as Richard Marx and Michael Bolton. The synths are a primary instrument Gabriel Aquino building layers of tinkling electronics and melodic lines against the guitars of Eduardo Marcolino, who can play restrained on the slightly ragga feeling More Than Less but also on a track such as Rosetta Stone he unleashed his prog credentials, having been in instrumental prog band Anxtron with Gabriel. 

Joining Eduardo and Gabriel is bassist José Marcus and vocalist Alexandre Daumerie, the drums on the record performed by Rafael Marcolino, all the members joined by a love of creating slick, AOR that should be coming out of the boombox on The Highlander (look it up) circa 1985. The prog background of the members means that is a band such as Toto who they take much of their style from, tracks such as Dinner's On The House, Moving Backwards and The Knight, all use those more theatrical, jazzy, proggy elements that the 80's supergroup deal in. 

I didn't know what to expect with Tarmat but this is great laid back, virtuoso AOR rocking from these Brazilians, I want some more as soon as possible. 8/10

Tommy DeCarlo - Dancing In The Moonlight (Frontiers Music Srl)

Having been the voice of Boston since 2007, Tommy DeCarlo knows how to deliver a chorus. His band Decarlo released their album Lighting Strikes Twice in 2020 but now he's back under his full name not just his surname with a set of musical works that are more similar to the 70's/80's rock of his day job. Dancing In The Moonlight starts out with the anthemic title track and the jangling Change Our Fate, both of which fall into the soundscapes created by Tom Scholtz since 1975. Like Scholtz an album like this needs a production whiz behind the desk so it's lucky that Alessandro Del Vecchio is not only behind the desk but plays keys and bass. 

His production technique here is based around the old analogue system and tries to capture that live-on-tape sound that bands strives for in the 70's. It's means that tracks such as Life Is Just A Game, the triumphant Home To You or the massive ballads of In The Hands Of Fate and Spread Your Wings And Fly are all similar to the Boston songbook with the guitars, keys and vocals in harmony. DeCarlo does here what he's been doing behind the mic with Boston, but with another band behind him, it's simple but effective. 7/10

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