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Dokken, Don: Solitary (expanded)

First seeing the limited light of day in 2008 as Don Dokken toured an acoustic set opening for Queensryche, getting your hands on Solitary proved somewhat difficult. Initially available only to fans who attended that tour, a limited run was then sold from Don’s website at the tour’s conclusion (when I snagged a copy) but it isn’t until now that Cleopatra Records have reissued the CD with 3 bonus tracks, that it gains a wider release.

Very much an on again/off again band in recent years, Dokken during this time were still alive as a recording and touring outfit but it was still an interesting prospect to hear Don stripped back from the forceful guitars of his many sparring partners - George Lynch, John Norum, Reb Beach and Jon Levin - with an acoustic guitar or piano being the main base from which this remarkably restrained set of songs spring forth. Still, with the likes of Tony Franklin, Vinnie Colaiuta, Michael Thompson and producer Wyn Davis all, amongst others, adding their talents, the musicianship is of an undeniably high standard. And yet, an album is only ever as good as its song writing and, for me, both it and the spartan arrangements, make Solitary a disappointingly uneventful experience. I had hoped that being given the nudge to revisit an album that I first heard on its original release and was never taken by, would give the opportunity to discover some hidden gems that I hadn’t latched onto first time round. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth. Don’s voice, while perfect for fronting the fiery rock of “Just Got Lucky”, “In My Dreams” or “Back For The Attack”, simply isn’t nuanced enough to carry the meandering hand percussion of “Ship Of Fools”, while “I’ll Never Forget” pretty much floats by without making any impact on the memory.

Unfortunately it’s a theme that runs across Solitary and while the likes of “The Tragedy” does hold some intrigue and “Where The Grass is Green” offers a slightly more insistent melody, these moments are few and far between. Of the three newly added bonus cuts “Jealous” (originally by Labrinth) struggles to raise above the torpor, while the cover of “My Heart Will Go On” (yes, we’re in Celine Dion territory here) is pretty much toe curling, as Don fails to inject anything like the required amount of emotion into a track that’s already an acquired taste. “All That Love Can Be”, I’m pleased to say, does a better job of introducing some much needed atmosphere into Solitary, but with it closing the album out, by then it’s all too late.

Unlike when David Coverdale eased off the bombast with his quite magnificent Into The Light album, Solitary finds Don Dokken flailing as he looks to find a sound that is a more natural fit for a voice that maybe hasn’t stood the test of time as we would have hoped. That in itself is a shame, but in all honesty, Solitary is extremely hard work.

Track Listing
1. In The Meadow
2. I’ll Never Forget
3. Where The Grass Is Green
4. Jealous
5. Ship Of Fools
6. You Are Everything
7. Venice
8. Sarah
9. My Heart Will Go On
10. The Tragedy
11. Someday
12. All That Love Can Be

Added: June 11th 2020
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Solitary @ Cleopatra Records
Hits: 528
Language: english

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