Released: 2004, Frontiers Records / Atenzia Records
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall
James Christian is probably well known for his membership in the melodic hard rock act House Of Lords where he is the lead singer. House Of Lords released an album earlier this year with almost all the original members except for the keyboard player Gregg Giuaffra. The album was called THE POWER & THE MYTH and was released on the same label as this album.
Now it’s time for Christian to release a solo album. Christian was born in Connecticut and started his musical career in the progressive rock band Jasper Wrath. After that he moved to the west coast and became a member of Eyes before he finally ended up in House Of Lords. Through the years he has built up a fine reputation as a songwriter and producer in his own right. Christian’s solo debut came in 1994 called RUDE AWAKENING and was re-released by this label with six bonus tracks. On the debut Christian co-operated with songwriters like Mark Baker (Signal), Mike Slamer (Streets) and Steve DeMarchi and Freddy Curci (Alias). That album is today a real diamond for all fans of melodic hard rock.
After a successful reunion with House Of Lords Christian felt that he wanted to go solo again and released MEET THE MAN. Personally I think it’s too soon to be releasing a new album when the reunion album was released as soon as six months ago.
Christian has once again worked with different songwriters, like House Of Lords members Chuck Wright and Lanny Cordola, as well as Stan Bush and Judithe Randall. Altogether it’s eleven tracks on MEET THE MAN but I don’t know what song each person has written. Once again the lyrics are mostly about love. Haven’t lyric writers anything different to write about?
Fabrizio V. Zee Grossi did the production and he also contributed with bass/keyboard play and programming and samples. Grossi is now a well known man within the melodic hard rock scene and he has worked with acts like From The Inside, House OLords and Over The Edge. He has made a really nice sounding production with the focus on lead vocals.
The bio lists Christian music as melodic rock. I, as usual, don’t agree with that. I would rather say that this is very melodic hard rock in the same style as House Of Lords. They have skipped most of the boring keyboard play and focused on using the guitars instead.
As so often there are a few ballads featured on the album. Those are “Surrender Your Love” and “Hold Back The Night” in which Christian shows what a capacity he have in his voice. The up-tempo ballads are “End Of All Time”, “Love Looked Into My Life” and “You Should Be Blue (All I Could Feel Was Blue)”. These songs are in a mid-tempo all the way and they’re not the strongest tracks on the album. Christian’s voice fits really into this kind of music and Roberto Vanni on lead guitar is really skilled, something that he shows.
“After The Love Has Gone”, “Know You In The Dark”, “Meet The Man”, “Leave Well Enough Alone”, “Strong Enough” and “Circle Of Tears” are the more rockier songs with Christian at the top of the mix. Some of the songs are really radio friendly and also really sing a long friendly in the choruses. These songs are the better ones on the whole album.
MEET THE MAN is solid half the way. The negative things are that the material feels a bit weak and weary and the love theme is tiring. The cover doesn’t benefit Christian either, nor does the title for that matter. The positive things are the more faster radio friendly songs that are of a really high class. Also, the album is well produced and there are competent musicians. Christian’s lead vocals are perfect for this music as well.
I would think that all fans of House Of Lords or any melodic hard rock are going to appreciate this effort. Its definitely something to check out.