Review: Overland – Contagious
Escape Music (Oct 2016)
Reviewer: Peter Scallan
Steve Overland needs no introduction to fans of melodic rock and/or AOR. As the voice of FM, I have waxed lyrical about his voice and for me he is The Man. He could sing the Yellow Pages and make it sound great. His soulful, bluesy yet melodic voice is just awesome and I have often wondered how he never ended in one of the non-Paul Rodgers line-ups of Bad Company, especially as Simon Kirke was in Wildfire and instrumental in getting them signed to Swan Song records. But enough brown-nosing and waxing lyrical, let’s get down to the album.
The album opener ‘Doctor My Heart‘ just plays up to The Man’s soulful side. With a great soulful verse the chorus is lifted by a great melody and that voice. There is also some pretty soulful guitar playing going on too from Tommy Denander. ‘Easy On Me‘ opens with almost dance-style keyboards before the guitars crash in and drive the verse to a very FM-esque bridge and chorus. The song breaks down in the middle with another neat guitar licks and then lifts for the solo proper. Great stuff! Next is ‘Edge of the Universe‘ with a Hammond organ intro before it stomps through a verse reminiscent of Joe Lyn Turner era Rainbow before the killer chorus kicks in. We head back to the blues for ‘Every Lonely Night‘ which smoulders through the verses and of course the inevitable killer chorus. There is also a lush breakdown for the solo which then builds nicely back into the chorus. ‘Wildest Dreams‘ continues the soulful/bluesy feel even though it opens up with a vocoder intro. It is reminiscent of Michael Bolton a la the Hunger in terms of feel and sound. The pace is picked up with ‘Intoxicated‘ which is a guitar-driven rocker with a great opening guitar salvo. It has an almost Streets feel and could comfortably sit on any of the two Streets albums. Admittedly The Man has worked with Mike Slammer on a number of projects so inevitably there has been some influence and it sounds great.
We then have a real slow-burning blues number in the shape of ‘Define Our Love‘. The Man croons with the best over this and then pours his heart out in the chorus. The song has a great expansive feel which allows the vocals to shine. ‘Pocketful of Dreams‘ is a stomping rocker that could easily sit on the last two FM albums. The Man rocks while maintaining that lush tone and feel but just that little bit harder. Next up we have bouncing bluesy number in the shape of ‘Making Miracles‘. With anybody else singing this it might be likely to be average at best but The Man lifts it from the average to the absolutely lush. ‘Back Where I Belong‘ has a fast and furious opening which is again reminiscent of Rainbow as is the chorus for me. A pacey stomper providing some variety to the album and while it works well, is the weakest song on the album for me. And so to album closer ‘Unforgiven World‘. This is another pacey melodic rocker which has a Streets feel to it. It really motors along and provides a fitting closing to the album.
As you probably have gathered I like this album – I like it a lot! Admittedly I may be a little biased having loved this guy’s voice since I saw him with Wildfire back in the early 80s, supporting MSG if I recall correctly. Therefore, I may be a little biased. However, along with The Man’s voice there is some superb guitar playing from Tommy Denander and some really superb songs. The production is also pretty strong and unlike a lot of albums produced by the Swedish AOR Mafia, it complements the songs and vocals nicely and doesn’t sound generic like so many other albums are these days. So hats off to the production team for the mix! This fills the gap nicely until the next FM album – when is that then Mr Overland?