|Vertigo 2||Frontiers Records|
Joseph Williams returns to his Vertigo project for an encore performance, with the Fabrizio V.Zee Grossi production machine in tow.|
Former Toto vocalist Joseph Williams has a golden set of pipes and AOR fans welcome any release with open arms, as they don't come along too often.
The debut Vertigo release was one of my favourite albums of 2003. Vertigo 2 is in many ways, a little brother to that of the debut. Most facets of the original have been reproduced here, which will be pleasing news to those that were looking forward to a follow-up; however it falls short on matching the brilliance of that first record.
This is an album of very enjoyable classic AOR featuring a selection of hand picked songs that are designed to impact with the listener instantly.
This is a chorus driven record – every track has a punchy, instantly recognizable chorus and one song flows to the next in quick fashion.
For that reason, I felt familiar with this album from the outset and I felt like I knew it well after just the second listen. I generally prefer albums to grow on me, but for those looking to get straight to the chorus, this album delivers in spades.
Overall I have to say that it is another very welcomed release from Williams and certainly slots into his catalogue of albums very nicely. It is extremely catchy and the songs seems perfectly suited to his voice.
The opening half of the record feels like a greatest hits record – one great chorus after another – In The Blink Of An Eye, All For You, Hold Me and Part Of Me are all similar in tempo and style and all feature a strong chorus.
Hold Me being the stand out of these opening tracks – the subtle chorus breaking into a great chorus makes it an instant winner.
The slightly more laid back Holy, which appears mid-album, is perhaps my favourite of all – Williams really owns this track.
The big ballad of the album is Save It All For Me, which I believe will be a fan favourite from the record.
At the same time as I sit back and enjoy the record for what it is, a few nagging doubts linger. Something isn't sitting quite right here.
Perhaps it is the production - I began to grow tied of the V.Zee Grossi sound a year or so back. Too many releases in two short a time span and most of them sound very similar. That same issue is present here – his take on how the overall album and in particular how the guitars sound is not something I love. On top of that - I think the production here is far less polished than the debut and in places it almost feels rushed.
And the songs that comprise Vertigo 2 are all very similar. The pacing and the tempo at which the album flows is pretty slick and before you know it, you are mid-way through the album and then it's over. At 39 minutes, the album could have used another big ballad and another mid-tempo track to round it out.
I love uptempo albums – but a balance must be struck in order to give the record the best and most even flow.
The last nagging doubt is the vocals of Mr. Williams. Perhaps it is the rushed nature of the record which I mentioned earlier, but he sounds a lot rougher than 3 years back and has a much raspier take on this record. At times I felt like he was shouting his way through some of the parts.
I must comment about the lyrical or spiritual connection between the songs on this album. It seems Joseph has chosen songs with a stronger spiritual connection and several contain openly Christian references, none better or more obvious than the closing track There's A Reason. A truly fine track and once again, a track you can just tell Joseph believes in.
But it could have been a tighter ship with a few changes and doesn't quite match the brilliance of the debut.
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