a l b u m r e v i e w s


THE DISTANCE / LIVE AND LEARN
LABEL: ESCAPE MUSIC ESM 042
OVERALL: 83%
Produced by: Kenny 'Kaos'
  1. Judgement Day
  2. You Live & You Learn
  3. Sleeper
  4. Take It Or Leave It
  5. Twisting The Knife
  6. Under Her Spell
  7. Steal The Key
  8. It's You
  9. Come What May
  10. Dancing On The Edge
  11. Wildest Dreams
Chris Ousey is a fine vocalist and one of the UK's best.
The Distance is his and Kenny Kaos project. For Chris it is his side project from Heartland, the band that along with Virginia Wolf, put him on the melodic map.
On the Distance's debut album, the guys took a step in a harder more guitar driven rock edge. It was a great rawer, live feel and the album contained a real energy. It set them aside from the smoother more styled Heartland.
On their new album, Kenny and Chris have blurred the lines between The Distance and Heartland.
This is a much smoother and compiled album, with most of the songs more complex than before and certainly requiring repeated listens to be familiar with them.
I for one prefer the looser style of the debut, but there is not doubting the energy and effort put into these songs.
This sounds more like a new Heartland record. Yet clearly still a harder edged Heartland.
On Live And Lear, the guitars still rule the day, but they require a more concentraded listen to hear all the added layers and subtle solos. It's a more mature and produced effort.
Judgement Day is a wondferfully tough intro to the album. A nice guitar intro and Ousey's vocals have rarely sounded more urgent or authorotive. There is no big chorus, just an understated change in tempo. But then it's back to the tought talking verse. And then it fades out subtly. Written by the band with Mike Reno.
It flows quickly onto the title track Live & Learn, which is a slightly new sound for he guys, a subtle vocal until the chorus livens things up a little. But again no big anthems, just a simple few lines. It's not overly catchy and takes a few listens to really take to it. A very smooth and controlled mid to uptempo track.
A big anthem or rocker might have been a cool at this time, but instead we get a atmospheric and moody rock ballad called Sleeper. The title pretty much describes the feel of the track, but it turns out to be one of the more memorable tracks on the album. Moody and mellencholy.
Take It Or Leave It immediately raises the tempo a little and sounds a little more straight ahead rock than any of the opening tracks. The chorus is better and more obvious also.
Twisting The Knife is a soft pop rocker in a more pure AOR vein. A nice and happy song that may not be lyrically as upbeat, but the track is very likable and Ousey's vocals are smooth as.
Under Her Spell is a great uptempo pop rocker for any previous fans of Heartland or The Distance. A familiar tone and one of the more catchy choruses on Live & Learn. Breif but enjoyable guitar solo by Kaos also.
The guitar intro and ongoing riff to Steal The Key is clearly borrowed from one of rocks greatest ever anthems! Yes, Armageddon It anyone? A little obvious, but it does suit the track. A good uptempo rocker that could have used a slightly bigger chorus. Nice female backing vocals though. Adds atmosphere.
It's You also has a familiar Heartland feel to it. Nice piano / guitar mix and a chorus that is more defined than some others on the album. Good hard egded drum sound also.
Come What May is another good happy uptempo number. A feel good pop rocker. Dancing On The Edge is a tru AOR anthem and easily the highlight of the album for me. Not only becasue it was written by Rick Springfield and Jeff Silverman, but because it contains the neccessary hooks and choruses to make all AOR fans stand up and take notice. Lyrically in tune with Springfield's other soul searching works from Rock Of Life and Karma.
Chris Ousey and Kenny Kaos take on the track and keep faith with the original version. Ousey's vocals are just great and easily do the song justice.
I am not sure if it was deliberate, but the only track one to truely provide an AOR anthem, is from outside writers. I think Ousey and Kaos are capable of this in the song writing department, but wonder why this time around seem to have avoided that, for the more subtle approach.
Wildest Dreams makes sure the album ends on a high with another good pure AOR track. A feel good chorus and a very melodic verse make this track another favourite.
Easily an essential purchase for any fans of Ousey, Heartland and The Distance's debut album. More produced and technical than the debut and a little closer to Heartland.
PRODUCTION: 83%SONGS: 79%VIBE: 78%ATTITUDE: 83%
ESSENTIAL FOR: Chris Ousey, Heartland fans and fans of the debut.

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