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Gentlemen’s Academy: Joy

For those of you who like the softer of rock music I present to you Gentlemen’s Academy and their debut album titled Joy, an apt title considering the music on offer. In the band are:

Mike Markowitz (guitar, bass)
Randy Pratt (lyrics, vocal melodies)
Patrick Klein (guitar, bass)
Rich Zukor (percussion, drums)
Scott Treibitz (keyboards)
Mike Dimeo (keyboards, Hammond)
Rob Schwimmer (keyboards, continuum)

There are also several vocalists on the album including Journey’s Steve Augeri and certainly the singing is a highlight throughout. Tasty melodies and a professional production makes this a very pleasant listen beginning with the first track “What The Rain’s For”. The lead vocals of Tommy Bowes are excellent as is the tasty guitar, lush vocal harmonies and dreamy synth work. “The Keepin’ Kind” is a bit more hard rock with its faster pace and crunchier riffs and background Hammond. Another fine track. More highlights include the soaring guitar solo in the pretty ballad “Crush”, the stunningly beautiful “Be Brave For Love”, the moody “Heaven Must Have Told You” and the soulful lead vocals in the pretty “When We Were Young”. The lush arrangements in the gorgeous “Teetering”, including more excellent lead guitar is another treat and a fine ending to what has been a very nice surprise. For those of you who appreciate finely crafted melodies and more than the occasional softer moment you should really give this one a spin. Recommended.

Track Listing:
1. What The Rain’s For (3:56)
2. Be Brave For Love (5:07)
3. The Keepin’ Kind (3:15)
4. Heaven Must Have Told You (4:06)
5. Paradise (3:15)
6. Fantastic Planet (4:14)
7. When We Were Young (5:20)
8. Tears Of Joy (3:25)
9. Always Is Forever (4:08)
10. Crush (2:52)
11. Teetering (4:39)

Added: August 27th 2020
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band on Facebook
Hits: 863
Language: english

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Gentlemen’s Academy: Joy
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2020-08-27 18:42:08
My Score:

With a couple of underground big names onboard, Gentlemen’s Academy are a soft rock romp that looks to take us back to a day when the likes of Bread and America were smoothing out the airwaves. With The Lizards/Cactus man Randy Pratt writing the vocal melodies and lyrics for a project that proves quite some departure from his normal activities, the interest is piqued early - something that doesn’t diminish as you find ex-Tyketto and Journey man Steve Augeri taking the vocal for “Be Brave For Love”, whilst it’s The Hooters’ Tommy Williams who adds to the overall Rod Stewartness of the setting via his mandolin work.

It’s an album highlight on a journey (no pun intended) that proved a little more treacherous than I’d hoped for. Closing track “Teetering”, with Ed Terry behind the mic on an album where singing duties are consistently handed around the team, hitting the other end of the scale. The song’s thoroughly irritating predilection for repeating the refrain “I’m teetering…” over and over undoing some solid work on the musical front. With the general theme being that of love and loss, the impression that we’re very much in a different time here is also a worry, with the intention to add a retro-sheen achieved maybe a little too efficiently.

As with any rocky road, there are undoubted highlights and “Tears Of Joy”, with its loose Kansas-lite feel, fits that bill, Terry doing a fine job with a less grating lyric at his disposal. “Paradise” adds a Steely Dan jazz shimmer to proceedings and a little welcome variance on an album that does seem to have a formula that’s pretty rigidly stuck to. Hence it’s maybe no surprise that “Crush” with Ivory Bell handling vocals, is almost trampled under its own intention, with the cloying nature it adopts prevalent across just a little too much of this collection.

Joy isn’t a bad album but I can’t quite escape the notion that its songs have been whittled away to fit the chosen approach, rather than being afforded the room to more naturally find their own form. Held up against the era that these songs are looking to evoke, there’s no denying that this release falls a little short and while it isn’t a bad listen, I can’t say that its made any kind of long term mark in my memory.

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