In this modern world of ”artists” who can barely sing and productions with no real instruments used at all, it is good to know that there’s still some true musicianship left out there. This time I am referring to album number three by Swedish star band CROSSFADE. Yes, you read it right. The wait is over! And, mind you, this album is actually the first one in a trilogy (!) to be released with much shorter intervals than we’ve seen between the albums so far.
The debut album ”White on blue” in 2004 was pretty westcoast oriented, and the follow-up ”Secret love” in 2011 continued very much in the same way – maybe with a slight additional progressive touch. Both of them are great albums well worthy of any serious AOR and westcoast collection.
There are some news this time, too. To begin with, this is the first time that CROSSFADE are releasing an album on both CD and vinyl! Hooray! On the subject of the line-up, we find the fantastic drummer FELIX LEHRMANN replacing the oracle PER LINDVALL, while JOHAN GRANSTRÖM handles the bass. Lehrmann is known from the JON ANDERSON & ROINE STOLT project as well as Stolt’s FLOWER KINGS.
The core of the band is of course still the trio LARS HALLBÄCK (guitars), GÖRAN EDMAN (vocals) and RICHARD STENSTRÖM (keyboards). Added to all this is ANDREAS EKSTEDT (percussion) and ANNELI AXON (backing vocals). Edman is also adding lots of backing vocals, naturally.
Stylewise CROSSFADE has now taken a step towards a more progressive style, mixed with some more obvious jazz influences. But the westcoast is still dominating, you can be assureed of that. All through this lovely album I find traces of PINK FLOYD, TOTO, SUPERTRAMP the soft side of PORCUPINE TREE as well as STEELY DAN. The songs are longer, too. Talking about the songs: some listeners will probably react to the fact that the total playing time is around 36 minutes. Yes, it is too short, however there’s a good reason behind this. Hallbäck wants the sound to be as good as possible on the vinyl pressing, and that’s why the guys have chosen to cut down on the number of songs, in favour of getting as good a sound as possible.
The albums kicks off with ”Carousel”, the title track. And you get lots of JaR vibes!!! It couldn’t start much better, right? Smooth westcoast with obvious flirts into the contemporary jazz direction, just like JaR (and when on earth is their second album being released?). But also some progressive and even symphonic moves.
But ”Dancing in the moonlight” is probably my fave track. It’s an epical 9 minute song, showing all the ranges of influences that I’ve mentioned above. Add to this a magnificent guitar solo by Hallbäck. Steve Lukather couldn’t have done it better.
The production, signed Hallbäck, is – not surprisingly – impeccable. This goes for almost every ingredient of this album. And it’s a grower! Knocking on the door to a 4.5 in grading.