I've been aware of Skyscraper for a long time now (early 2011 to be precise, check out the discussion with the band in the SoT interview section for details), so to finally hear the music behind the band is a pleasure indeed and one heightened through repeated listens to the debut, Elevation, from singer Lee Small (Phenomena/Shy), guitarist Tor Talle (Joe Lynn Turner/Fergie Frederikson) and Dave Boyce (Airrace/The Quireboys). Completing the line-up for album number one is Salute drummer Imre Daun, who will also be part of the touring band and one-time guitarist for Richard Marx, Madonna and Peter Cetea, Bruce Gaitsch, who adds some acoustic touches.
So what do a trio best known for an eclectic mix of rocking Soul (Small), Melodic Rock (Talle) and good time Rn'R (Boyce) serve up? Well, slightly surprisingly, the answer is ballsy AOR, smooth melodies and guitar punctuations the order of the day across a set of songs which are packed with an easy going energy. Small as ever is a real ace on the hole, his full, rich delivery a joy from start to finish (I mean this guy really should be a star), while Talle brings a host of riffs and solos to the party, injecting more vigour into this sharply mixed album than most bands operating in this style care to. It's a clever move, although one which does require the listener to stick with things early on, repeat visits to "Across The Barricades", "Playing With Fire" "Through The Eyes Of Liberty" and "Sweet Little Sister" reaping rewards as their classy melodies and structures begin to reside in the mind. On first listen things can feel a little standoffish, yet after a few spins I found myself humming a whole host of melody lines from Elevation long after I'd played it.
Albums such as Elevation wouldn't be complete without at least the odd slowie and Small excels here (as does Boyce, whose bass work proves classy and tasteful), "Everybody Cries Sometimes" having genuine hit potential, while "Runaway Hearts", which also appears in acoustic form, wouldn't have been out of place on a Don Henley album. If I was being a nitpicker, and I'm reviewing here, so I suppose I have to be, then an extra couple of really stick in the mind killer choruses where the sing along moments are as strong as the melodies wouldn't go amiss, yet there's a feeling that time spent with this album may also cure this ever so slight issue.
In a genre of projects, it's reassuring to know that work has already begun on the follow up to this first offering, as Skyscraper confirm they are a band. Hopefully we won't have to wait over three years to hear the results, as we did with this album, for even with a band name like Skyscraper and album titled Elevation, there's no doubt this lot are on the up and up!
1. Sail Away
2. Monday Morning
3. Fay Wray
4. Across The Barricades
5. Everybody Cries Sometimes
6. Walk Through Fire
7. Runaway Hearts
9. Through Eyes Of Liberty
10. The Sky Is Turning Blue
11. Playing With Fire
12. Sweet Little Sister
13. Where Love Is Waiting
14. Runaway Hearts (Acoustic)
Added: October 31st 2014
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Skyscraper online
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