Label: Frontiers 2012
Review by Kimmo Toivonen
Sunstorm is a project built around the talent of Joe Lynn Turner, a vocalist whose name should be familiar to anyone into hard rock and AOR. This is the third Sunstorm album, and according to the press release, it pays tribute to his session work as a background vocalist. Well, three of the 11 songs originate from the late eighties, when Turner was doing a lot of session work. The other tracks are newly written songs from the Frontiers' pool of songwriters (Tom & James Martin, Soren Kronkvist, Daniel Palmqvist are named in the same press release).
The three covers are all Michael Bolton's songs, two of which he recorded himself and one that was originally recorded by Cher. Now, Bolton is a blue-eyed soul crooner these days, but back in the eighties he was an AOR god, and these songs are among his finest ones. And there lies a problem - as far as I'm concerned, there's nothing to add to the original versions. Turner & co do a good job with them, but... I still prefer the slightly "over-the-top" version of "Emotional Fire" by Cher and while the heavier edge of "Gina" is cool, Turner's timing is a bit too different here and there. Having heard the Bolton original about a million times, I find it hard to get a grip of this version. The best one of the three is "You Wouldn't Know Love". That song is what I'd call "A perfect AOR song", and Turner's version certainly does it justice.
What's great about this album is that despite there being three AOR classics in the tracklisting, the new songs stand proudly alongside them. There really isn't a weak track among the new songs, and you can really feel the "emotional fire" in the best ones, more than in the song by that name. The tracks that stand out the most are "Torn In Half" and "Emily", both of them are simply brilliant, intense AOR songs and Turner sings them with passion.
In conclusion... just like the previous two Sunstorm albums, this is an essential purchase for anyone into melodic rock. Dennis Ward's production is top-notch as usual, great musicianship and awesome vocals... very close to being my first ten out of ten for this year.