Review: Rob Moratti – Transcendent
Escape (June 2016)
Reviewer: Peter Scallan
Rob Moratti has been kicking around for quite some time with his first albums released in the early to mid-90s with Moratti. He also featured in Saga for a while and most recently on the last Rage of Angels album. Admittedly, I haven’t heard much of his back catalogue but he is highly rated amongst the melodic rock fraternity, so I was looking forward to reviewing this album.
Opening song ‘Answer of Life’ has a very Pink Floyd/Dave Gilmour intro which then bursts into a very Journey-like song. Right from the off there is no doubting the quality of this guy’s voice with his crooning and the soaring heights he reaches. The song is well crafted too, but for me the production is just so lack lustre and sounds like so many other AOR/melodic rock bands. ‘Don’t Give Up’ follows very much in the same vein in terms of sound but takes the pace up a notch or two with Rob really hitting the high notes. While I love the range of his voice, for me it would have most effect if used sparingly to create a real wow effect in a few choice songs. Next is a mid-paced rocker which suits the sound and for me is one of the few occasions when the album really works for me. Called ‘Edge of Love’ if anybody bothered to release singles properly then this would be the one from this album. ‘I’m Back’ quickly follows and falls back into the category of the first two songs and could be any one of a number of bands with a change of vocalist. Rob’s undoubted quality as a vocalist shines through on ‘Lost and Lonely’ but again the song just passes me by with the uninspiring production.
We then have the obligatory AOR dut-dut keyboard song in the shape of ‘I’m Flying High’. And like Edge of Love this song really suits the production and it certainly soars along with Rob’s voice. This is followed by ‘Within Your Eyes’ which is a similar song to the afore-mentioned Edge of Love, and while good, only lends itself to the sameness of the album. Although it works well, I hasten to add. ‘Mist of June’ is next and is back to the generic sound of the majority of the album and just passes me by. Rob then tries to rock it up with ‘There’s No Denying’ but the lack lustre production just doesn’t allow the song to reach its true potential. ‘To Be An Honest Man’ sees the return of dut-dut keyboard which again indicates for me lack of versatility in the songs and production and again just comes and goes with very little impact apart from the vocal performance in the chorus. There is a lush keyboard/bass intro in a similar vein to the opening track which then leads into a power ballad driven by acoustic guitar called ‘Baby I’m Yours’. For me, another good song hampered by the generic sound. The last song is ‘Euphoria’ and if I am honest I am feeling anything but euphoric about this album as it just comes and goes with very little impact. Point in case is the fact that it is guitar driven but the guitars just don’t rock the song like they should.
Now there is absolutely no denying that Rob Moratti has a stunning voice, but the old saying of the singer not the song just doesn’t stand up here for me. Sure there are some highlights and the songs are well crafted and executed. But it is so generic in places it could be any number of bands if the singer changed. In the 80s melodic rock/AOR started to sound the same as a few key producers were in demand and they had ‘their sound’ using the same old tricks for every band instead of actually producing them on the basis of what suited their songs and style. We seem to be heading in the same direction again, with engineers and producers making their mark instead of understanding the needs of the songs and the players within the band. You need go no further than the last Bryan Adams album as evidence with Jeff Lynne ‘producing’ this album and it sounding like Adams singing for ELO – if Jeff Lynne sang on it you would think it were a ELO album. I just hope for the sake of melodic rock we don’t make the same mistakes from the past and end up with lots of generic music that could be any one of a number of bands!