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Sunstorm: Emotional Fire

Sunstorm is the Joe Lynn Turner fronted melodic rock project that in conjunction with Frontiers records has given a new lease of life to songs from the back catalogue of the much travelled singer, with two albums to date. For this third time around Turner has revisited other artists material in which he contributed as a session vocalist in the 80's, hence songs from the likes of Michael Bolton ("Gina") and Cher ("Emotional Fire") are included together with some fresh material from the current crop of AOR songwriters. Long time collaborator Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69) is once more at the production helm, providing that slick finish for which he is renowned and also adding guitars, bass and additional vocals.

Addictive choruses, sustained hooks and smooth guitars are all high on the agenda with Turner's distinctive voice ensuring a polished end result. Very much aimed squarely at the melodic rock crowd there is nothing that deviates from the tried and tested approach and anyone who enjoyed the first two releases will be delighted to discover that Emotional Fire serves up more of the same. The title track features Turner at his most vibrant, highlighted by swirling keys and bursting with an energy and enthusiasm that runs throughout the eleven tracks. "Wish You Were Here" is a heart warming AOR gem that Turner sings so well and the harder edged "Torn In Half" evokes memories of his tenure with Rainbow; all that is missing is that killer solo from The Man In Black himself. With its 80's friendly vibe and anthemic approach Sunstorm is the outlet that ensures Turner remains very much at the forefront of the melodic rock scene.

Track Listing
1. Never Give Up
2. Emotional Fire
3. Lay Down Your Arms
4. You Wouldn't Know Love
5. Wish You Were Here
6. Torn In Half
7. Gina
8. The Higher You Rise
9. Emily
10. Follow Your Heart
11. All I Am

Added: March 18th 2012
Reviewer: Dean Pedley
Related Link: Frontiers Records
Hits: 4561
Language: english

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Sunstorm: Emotional Fire
Posted by Michael Popke, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-03-18 21:22:30
My Score:

Not only does Joe Lynn Turner cover two songs Cher recorded in the late 1980s here, he went ahead and named his latest album after one of them. Granted, "Emotional Fire" a song penned by Desmond Child, Michael Bolton and Diane Warren that was a highlight of Cher's AOR-heavy 1989 album, Heart of Stone sounds great regardless of who sings it. But it's odd that a guy whose career includes stints with Rainbow and Yngwie Malmsteen is covering Cher. ("You Wouldn't Know Love," also from Heart of Stone, is the other Cher cover here which was actually on Michael Bolton's 1989 Soul Provider record.)

Surely, an explanation is in order? Emotional Fire the third album Turner has released under the Sunstorm moniker for Frontiers records focuses on the numerous vocal sessions he worked as a background singer for other artists. But that still doesn't explain the Cher songs, since Turner is not mentioned in Heart of Stone's credits for either track. Regardless, this is prime AOR aimed straight at the aficionados who still care enough to own a copy Heart of Stone.

Also included here is the early Bolton song, "Gina," a mid-tempo rocker that contradicts Bolton's future musical direction. Emotional Fire additionally includes tunes written by some of Frontiers' rising songwriters who have penned tracks for Crash the System, Issa, Vega, Xorigin and Khymera. Add glistening production work from Pink Cream 69's Dennis Ward, sing-along choruses built for windows-down car rides and Turner's age-defying 60-year-old voice, and you have an AOR feast one that tastes exactly like you think it does.

You know who you are, so eat it up!

Sunstorm: Emotional Fire
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-02-09 18:59:24
My Score:

Over the past few years Italy's Frontiers Records have been at the forefront of reviving some of the biggest names in rock, releasing new albums by the likes of Toto, Journey and Whitesnake. However before the big names jumped on board, Frontiers made their name with project albums championing some of the names that populated the genre back in the 80's, surrounding them with cracking session musicians and raiding talented songwriter's cupboards for material.

Perfectly falling into that latter category are Sunstorm, which really is Joe Lynn Turner with uber-producer/mixer Dennis Ward sprinkling his aural magic over the ex-Rainbow, Deep Purple and Yngwie Malmsteen vocalist's songs. Or at least that was the formula for Sunstorm albums number 1 and 2 (2006's Sunstorm and 09's House Of Dreams). However, sticking to that once every three years timeline comes Emotional Fire, which rather oddly finds Turner recording tracks on which he initially added his talents as a backing singer. It may not seem like the most obvious premise on which to build an album, but with tracks borrowed from the likes of Michael Bolton (back when he actually had something to do with Rock music), Cher (also from the pen of Bolton), Tom and James Martin (Vega) and Desmond Child among others, the results are surprisingly impressive, if unsurprisingly Joe Lynn Turner like. And there's the rub. It is virtually impossible to criticise the stellar guitar work on Emotional Fire courtesy of Uwe Reitenauer and Ward, which has certainly (and thankfully) been beefed up from Sunstorm's last effort- the solos really are full of fire and sparks as well. However even as a long term Turner fan, there's not much on Emotional Fire that really distinguishes it from the countless other albums that JLT has released in recent years. Now that in itself isn't an out and out criticism and as someone willing and able to pretend the last two or three decades haven't happened, I have to admit to happily bouncing along to the ultra catchy "Never Give Up", the pounding, if overtly Slippery era Jovi title track (although the keyboard squiggles in the background do get on my nerves as the song progresses), or the slow cooked groove of "Gina". However by the time that the eleven tracks have been and gone, I find myself yearning for just a little more variance from track to track. In fact while reviewing this album I've actually flitted between the songs quite a lot and been startled at just how similar the pacing and structure becomes from track to track. They don't all sound the same and indeed this time they aren't from the JLT songbook, but they sound sooo like they are from the one time Rainbow crooner's catalogue, that it makes me wonder why he didn't just record some of his own material? I'm not saying the results would be massively improved, or indeed different for being so, but whether I really need what amounts to a Joe Lynn Turner covers-collection to sit alongside his own albums on my shelves really is the question.

So this is a good album, full of excellent performances and strong musicianship. However I doubt very much that I'll be seduced by it enough to replace my download copy with a shiny disc (as is still my want with albums I really like). If, like me, you are a long-time supporter of Joe Lynn Turner, there's no denying you'll really enjoy this album, but whether there's enough real spark to this Emotional Fire to make you play it ahead of the countless other albums by JLT, I'm not so sure.

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