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Cornerstone: Reflections

Austria's Cornerstone return with a new album, Reflections, and a new singer in the shape of Alina Peter. Known for a soft (so soft it would melt over a gentle flame) rock approach that isn't too concerned with the thought of slipping into the large murky pool marked pop, the band have long split opinions. Some love their smooth approach, others finding it veering way too close to schmaltz. Unfortunately, I fall firmly into the second camp, the 'easy as she goes' proving wholly unexciting in my world where a guitar or two can take the poppiest of poppity pop and make it palatable. However it feels like Cornerstone might think that the west coast approach of the likes of AOR (the band), is way too close to danger for them.

In itself that's not too high a hurdle to overcome, the likes of REO Speedwagon long proving that with a few exciting solos and some cracking vocals you can take twee and make it vital. Reflections however doesn't really possess either. Even after double digit listens I do know there are some guitar solos on this album, but I simply can't recall any of them. While Alina Peter's vocals, while clear as a bell, simply hold no excitement. Instead they prove so slick, smooth and shiny that they glide right past. If I was being unkind I'd call them boring, but with Cornerstone being so pleasant, I'll settle instead for forgettable. The girl can certainly sing, but her contributions here just don't have enough to push an unexciting set of songs into the breathy overdrive they'd need to make a mark.

Frustratingly, there's one true anomaly. For while "Northern Light" is polite and pleasant, "Last Night" hits like an 80s US daytime soap theme (sax and all) and "True Confessions" tries to add a little enigmatic mystery to an album far too 'straight' for its own good, "Believe In Me" suddenly makes you 'hud the bus' as we say here in Scotland. By that I mean it stops you in your tracks, pulls your pants down and slaps you across the chops with the catchiest chorus for miles around. Suddenly Peter is immense, her voice adding colour and character, the guitar of Steve Wachelhofer biting and snarling at your heels. Equally the drumming from Christoph Karas snap, crackle and rocks for all its worth and the mix by Harry Hess (Harem Scarem), for the first time, doesn't go to waste. Where did this come from?? Unfortunately, wherever it was, Reflections can't relocate it either, "Once" closing the album out in decidedly ho-hum fashion. Something made all the more unfathomable by the corking pop-rock that preceded it.

One song doesn't make an album, hence with "Believe In Me" Cornerstone may not have made me a believer, but it sure does leave you with some hope and my mark below contains an extra half-star for that one song alone. If the rest of Reflections was this song's equal, we'd be looking at album of the year, as it is, I'm afraid to say it's headed for the also ran pile...

Track Listing
1. Nothing To Lose
2. Last Night
3. Heart On Fire
4. Whatever
5. True Confessions
6. Northern Light
7. Brother
8. Sooner Or Later
9. Believe In Me
10. Once

Added: November 29th 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Cornerstone online
Hits: 1652
Language: english

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