Review: Jon Oliva – Raise The Curtain
AFM Records (June 21st 2013)
Reviewer: Dan Mann
I was waiting with some eagerness for this first solo album from Jon Oliva, having been a fan of his work for more years than I’d care to mention.
For those of you unfamiliar with the name (shame on you) Jon first came to prominence together with his brother Criss when they formed the band Savatage.
This collaboration lead to a prolific song writing team up until Criss’s untimely death in a car crash some 20 years ago. Savatage continued with Jon taking somewhat of a back seat having removed himself from vocal duties but continuing to write.
Jon went on to form Jon Oliva’s Pain as well as being the brains behind Trans Siberian Orchestra (TSO)
Well that’s the groundwork prepared, onto the album itself. If you are already familiar with Jon’s work then this album won’t come as a big surprise. That’s not to say it’s boringly predictable.
First off we have the title track ‘Raise The Curtains’ And what an appropriately titled track it is. With a fanfare of Hammond organ style keyboards, there’s almost a 70’s British feel to it, in the vein of say ELP.
The strong keyboards continue on ‘Soul Chaser’, with Jon’s distinctive vocal delivery being fired at the microphone.
‘Ten Years’ you know straight away has Savatage all over it.
We then move onto one of my favorite tracks off the album. And that is ‘Father Time’ I cannot get the opening riff out of my head.
That riff underpins the whole song with very strong and powerful lyrics which you gain understanding of more and more as you repeat listen.
‘I Know’ is again a song so Savatage in form and style. This I must remind you is not a bad thing. Far far from it.
Next up we have ‘Big Brother’ which to me is more Jon Oliva’s Pain (JOP) namely the heavier feel to the vocals and quite sinister music.
‘Armageddon’ is an instrumental number, very for-boding which of course suits the song title and finishes in a chilling and appropriate manner.
For ‘Soldier’ Jon slows things down. Yes it’s a ballad, but one in the vein of say Savatage’s ‘Out On The Streets’
I’d say Jon throws caution to the wind and sings in almost a maniacal way on ‘Stalker’ It took me a few listens to realise what the song so strongly reminds me of. And that’s Alice Cooper.
‘Witch’ has a real seventies feel to it, which to be honest is something which underlies the majority of the album. No not cheesy seventies, but solid hard rocking seventies. Think of bands like Uriah Heep, a band of which Jon is a big fan,hence the huge influence.
Well there are so many elements in the longest track on the album. ‘Can’t Get Away’ has elements of blues, dare I say pop and a whole lot more. But Jon gets away with this hotchpotch of styles with aplomb.
And so we come to the final track of the album, ‘The Truth’ a bonus track on which there’s acoustic guitar and accordion. It highlights Jon’s ability to sing in a more mellow style as well as his trademark vocals.
To sum up, do I like the album. Your damn right I do, in fact I’ve even bought 1 of only 800 double disc vinyl copies to truly sink into this glorious soundtrack of seventies influenced rock, tinged with Savatage finery.
“Raise The Curtain” track listing:
01. Raise The Curtain
02. Soul Chaser
03. Ten Years
04. Father Time
05. I Know
06. Big Brother
10. The Witch
11. Can’t Get Away
12. The Truth (bonus track)