Released: 2012, Frontiers Records
Vocalist Harry Hess has certainly been keeping himself busy since the dissolution of lauded Canadian rockers Harem Scarem in 2008. Aside from extensive studio work (he owns a studio in the Toronto area), he sang on the fantastic First Signal debut in 2010, and is now releasing his second solo album, and first since 2003. Hess’ voice has always been a highlight in any album he’s worked on, so another solo album is definitely welcome.
If you’ve heard anything that Hess has put his name to, you pretty much know what to expect from HESS – catchy melodic hard rock with sublime vocals, hooks galore, big choruses, and just enough guitar edge to make it snappy. The fact that his old Harem Scarem band mate Pete Lesperance is on board playing guitar and bass is just icing on the cake (and likely the closest we’ll get to a new Harem Scarem album).
“Living In Yesterday” opens the album in perfect fashion, highlighting the big voice the Hess is known for. Sure, the lyrics are cheesy as hell (and that goes for the whole album), but they’re filled with the same upbeat attitude that Scarem and First Signal brought across so well. Yeah, the album is laden with ballads and love songs, but you have to expect that going in. Hess is just doing what he loves.
Truth be told, I was actually underwhelmed by the album when I first heard it, as it’s not as immediately catchy as the First Signal album (in case you haven’t guessed, I LOVED that one). After a few listens though, it’s grown on me quite a bit and I’ve been playing it more regularly. By name alone you’ll know if HESS is for you, just know that it’s a solid melodic rock album, packed with songs that will stick with you for long time to come.