|Kelly Keagy I'm Alive||Frontiers Records|
Kelly Keagy returns for his second solo album, some 5 years since the debut Time Passes achieved universal critical and fan acclaim.|
One of the many compliments bandied about for that album was that it was more Night Ranger than Night Ranger themselves. I'll be very interested to see if the same comparison is used again to describe this album, especially as drummer Kelly and his band go head to head this year.
I'm Alive is a natural successor to Time Passes and while delivering a couple of musical curveballs, isn't too far removed from the great sound and style of that first album.
One of the changes for this album is an increased role for songwriter/legend Jim Peterik. The pair already teamed up for several tracks on Time Passes, including one of the songs of 2001 – the anthem The Journey.
There may not be another track quite like that one on here, but there are anthems and there is brilliance in play. The album again features an extremely consistent and highly enjoyable set of songs that just get better and better.
Two other differences of note – this album features a rawer, more live-in-the-studio feel, which to be honest, sounds every bit as good as the more polished debut. At times there is a more modern/updated feel to several tracks, but that is nothing more than Kelly updating his sound a little, which works perfectly well and will be nothing foreign to the ears of faithful fans.
In many ways, the songs of I'm Alive match those of Time Passes.
From Time Passes, the ballad Where There's A Woman is matched by the very romantic tones of Everything I Need In A Woman here and the raw, emotional honesty of Where Are We Now is this album's The Moon, plus the grittier guitar rock of Acid Rain and Bottled Up from Time Passes are both matched by the big modern rock sounds of Stolen and Blink Of An Eye here – two tracks which have a contemporary, hard rocking edge.
One of my favourite tracks from Time Passes was the big rocking drum heavy anthem Before Anybody Knows I'm Gone. Again, this album has an equivalent, the every bit as impressive rocker World Before And After, which comes to a fitting conclusion with a burst of drum play and some searing guitars.
Elsewhere on the album there are more melodic rock highlights. None better than the opening track, I'm Alive, which Jack Blades told me he wished he had written. It's classic Keagy and classic melodic hard rock – and still getting better every listen.
When Nobody Is Looking is another utterly fantastic melodic rocker, with the hand of Jim Peterik definitely in play. The chorus is one of the best feel good AOR anthems in a long while.
Back Of Your Mind is a great rock ballad with yet another great bridge/chorus set up, which saunters almost directly into another mid-tempo winner in A Life Worth Remembering. These three tracks make for a melodic rock dream and are all classic tracks.
Re-Imagine is a little grittier and again features obvious Jim Peterik overtones, as well as influences from the debut.
Where The Road Ends is another one of those grittier Keagy tracks with a more pronounced guitar presence and in some ways reminds me a little of the Man In Motion Night Ranger sound. The song features yet another strong chorus.
Call In Another Day is something a little different, melodic and rocking without being true to any formula, but still sounding completely comfortable for Keagy to sing.
Half A World Away closes the album with a sentimental note. This is another track which sounds completely natural for the album, again without adhering to any formula.
Keagy and Peterik supply a lot of the albums instruments and Keagy pal Reb Beach is in charge of lead guitar work. There is an even blend of updated and classic guitar tones present – just as there was on the debut.
Kelly really knows his strengths and the partnership with Peterik delivers some fine melodic rock moments that fans of both and of Night Ranger are definitely going to appreciate. The melodies and hooks are never just confined to choruses – there are bridges, great verse melodies and simply put – the album is filled with hooks.
A fairly diverse record in one sense, but entirely cohesive thanks to the production and performances within.
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