Chris Ousey – Dream Machine
Escape (Apr 2016)
Reviewer: Peter Scallan
Chris Ousey should need no introduction if you know your onions with melodic rock. I first saw him at the Marquee all those years ago with Virginia Wolf. In fact, I would defy anybody to listen to One Night and Man In The Moon on the second Virginia Wolf and not be blown away with this guy’s vocal performance. For me his is up there with Steve Overland and Danny Bowes as one of the great voices of British rock. Although, this is his second solo album, other than Virginia Wolf I have only heard the Snakecharmer and Ozone albums on which he didn’t disappoint and therefore my expectations are high!
‘This Is The Life’ opens with an almost Rainbowesque guitar riff and the song continues in this vein and could comfortably be on any of Joe Lynn Turner’s Rainbow albums. Pacey and melodic, it rattles along nicely. This is followed by ‘Another Runaway’ which opens with some dut-dut keyboards (an AOR technical term for those of you unfamiliar) and then opens up into a mid-paced melodic rocker. ‘War’ is next up and raises the pace a little and has a huge chorus and some neat mood breaks. The title track ‘Dream Machine’ opens with some bluesy phased/flanged guitars and is fairly meaty throughout and has some neat keyboard sounds in the verses. Again there is a pretty hook-laden chorus. ‘Tearing It All Down’ kicks in with some neat keyboards but when the song kicks in proper it sounds very much like Streets, which is no bad thing in my book, although the chorus is not quite up there with what has proceeded it.
Reaching the half-way mark on this album ‘Into Your Dream’ is another Rainbowesque song with a touch of Whitesnake. Although well written and executed, it sounds a little too ‘Scandi-rock’ for my liking and not quite as authentic as I would expect from someone of Ousey’s pedigree. None, the less it rocks along if this is your bag. ‘Moment of Madness’ lifts the pace somewhat and has elements of Nightranger, Streets and some Rainbow/Deep Purple. It has another great chorus with some great backing vocals really lifting it. Etheral keyboards open ‘Gone Long Gone’ before the main guitar riff kicks in. Driven along by the guitar the keyboards provide additional texture while Ousey gives a soulful performance. Yet it still leaves me a little cold. ‘Better Time to Come’ kicks in right from the off with a big guitar/keyboard riff combined attacked and moves along swiftly with ‘golden tonsils’ giving it some. When then drop into a bluesy guitar/Hammond driven riff which is most definitely Rainbow-inspired. ‘Eager to Please’ stomps along driven by the bass and drums augmented by a Blackmore-riff and organ providing the backdrop. Last, but by no means least is ‘Return to Me’. Opening with a ‘panned’ guitar riff it also cracks along nicely coming in at around three and a half minutes. The melody and backing vocals for the chorus give the song a very classic Michael Bolton feel a la his first solo album.
Reading the above comments again as I proof read them, it should be good then! However despite ticking all the right boxes and the undisputed talent that Chris Ousey is, the album just leaves me a little cold and unmoved. It should have me smiling from ear to ear but there is just something I can’t put my finger on that this just doesn’t move. In places it sounds very classic melodic rock with a blues influence, but it just doesn’t groove and lacks the kind of feel I would expect to be built around such a spectacular voice. On that basis, I found this album a little disappointing, and maybe unfairly based on some of the stunning work that has went before from Mr O.