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Departure: Hitch a Ride

Hitch a Ride is the first release in nearly a decade for the melodic hard rock act known as Departure, which is led by guitarist/keyboardist Mike Walsh. One of the first bands to sign to Escape Music way back when, Walsh & Co. have taken their time to come up with Hitch a Ride, but it's finally here, as once again they've created a solid batch of songs that will please any fan of Journey, Styx, Toto, Kansas, or Saga.

Walsh is joined on Hitch a Ride by new vocalist Andi Kravljaca, drummer Duey Ribestello, and bassist Ryan Walsh. Together these four have put together a very catchy collection of songs, filled with memorable melodies, crisp guitar work, and plenty of tasty keyboards. "No Where to Go", "You Don't Need To This Anymore", and "Waiting For Rain To Come" are instantly memorable, and tunes that in the 80's would have had definite radio potential. Those wanting more hard rock muscle can look to "Travel Through Time" and "Soldier of Fortune", as these feature vocals from Kravljaca that are a bit on the aggressive side, as well as some crunchy guitar work from Walsh. It's a shame that there's not more of these kinds of songs on Hitch a Ride, as much of the second half of the CD is mired in generic ballads and bland AOR fodder. It's not until the closing cut "Outside Looking In" that the band comes back to life with some passionate vocals, tasty guitar solos, and a nice Hammond excursion.

Basically, half of Hitch a Ride is quite good, the other pretty forgettable. A few less ballads and some more musical muscle would have greatly helped this album and elevate it to something more than what it actually is, which is a decent but not essential melodic hard rock/AOR affair.

Track Listing
1 No Where To Go
2 You Don't Need To This Anymore
3 Waiting For Rain To Come
4 Soldier Of Fortune
5 LuvSick
6 Roses
7 Travel Through Time
8 Fly
9 This Is My Time
10 Without You
11 Outside Looking In

Added: April 22nd 2012
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Escape Music
Hits: 2704
Language: english

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Departure: Hitch a Ride
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-04-21 19:22:04
My Score:

It is not often a band progresses, while sounding like they've moved backwards. However after an extended lay-off Departure have returned with a new (read well trodden) sound and altered line-up. The brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Mike Walsh, who handles guitars and keyboards on this album, Departure is for album number four, Hitch A Ride, made up of Duey Ribestello on drums, Ryan Walsh on bass and Silent Call vocalist Andi Kravljaca.

The three previous Departure albums mixed the style of Saga, Toto and Journey, to make a create a clever and unmistakable take on AOR. Ultimately Departure wrote catchy tunes, that avoided the throwaway tag, something which in places Hitch A Ride doesn't quite live up to. Kravljaca, who has a similar tone to Lawrence Gowan (Styx/solo), turns in a tip top performance; however for the large part his excellent vocals can't quite stop much of Hitch A Ride sounding formulaic and predictable.

Now don't take that to mean that this is a bad set of songs, in fact I'm convinced that true AOR lovers will adore most of Hitch A Ride, with the energetic "This Is My Time", "LuvSik" and "Nowhere To Go", all having choruses to dies for and hooks aplenty. Although things do get bogged down in ballad land, with "Without You" and "Fly" proving particularly lacklustre. That said, "Outside Looking In" adds a more muscular punch and "Soldier Of Fortune" (no not the old Deep Purple chestnut) shows how the slower songs should be done.

Hitch A Ride makes a decent impression when you first give it a spin, however as you get more accustomed to it, it does get harder and harder to distinguish it from countless other AOR releases. More an album to quickly quench your AOR thirst than a fine vintage to savour, Hitch A Ride should still satisfy long-term fans of the band, without ever quite managing to compete with the band's previous output.

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