Review: Champlin, Williams, Friestedt – CWF
AOR Heaven (2015)
Reviewer – Stephen Brophy
What do you get when you put together two of the most recognisable vocalists in AOR/Rock music ? Well lets be honest, even if the songs were only half decent with Bill Champlin (Chicago, State Cows) and Joseph Williams (Toto) adding their magic they’d be elevated, but there are some great tracks on this album and that’s making this a very worthwhile listen. The other main protagonist here is Peter Friestedt a Swedish Guitarist/Producer who has worked with Joseph Williams in the past.
The sheer warmth in the vocals on this album is just beautiful to feel, you know you are listening to masters of their craft, it’s smooth and there’s definitely a large spoonful of West Coast in there, and it’s not a heavy rock album, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a spin, something for me doesn’t quite work with the flow of the album but that’s a personal thing and a very minor point, but there are some excellent songs on here and that’s enough to bring me back for another listen. The opener ‘Runaway‘ is a great way to begin the album, it’s upbeat, well constructed and rumbles along at a nice pace.
There are some great tracks here though like ‘Still Around‘, the beautiful ‘All That I Want‘ and ‘Nightfly‘. The Earth Wind & Fire classic ‘After The Love Has Gone‘, which could probably slot straight into a different time period, manages to sound right here, not only because Bill Champlin co wrote the song but he also sings it perfectly. Everything is solid, everything is pretty well balanced it’s nice to have songs interpreted by different vocalists who stamp their own sound on them but also back each other up in places.
It would be a pleasure to hear these guys playing the new material live, whether that happens or not is a different question, but even if there are only a couple of shows try and get there.
Of course there’s elements of the bands these great singers have worked with in some of the tracks (‘Aria‘ in particular could definitely have slotted into a Toto album), but it’s not to the detriment of the album, nor is it just a collection of Toto and Chicago cover songs.
Listen to this album over and over and different songs will grab you, for example ‘Carry On‘ wasn’t doing much for me until all of a sudden it hit me in the face, and that’s great, adds some longevity to it.
Although I’m sure that this album will not be to everyone’s tastes, Mr. Friestedt has created a really good piece of work here, there’s some different styles mixed in, this is classy AOR. CWF is for more than just fans of Toto, Chicago or their collective styles of music, it’s for fans of well crafted music with passion and class.