the splinters in my soul
why don't I realise
they don't hurt at all"
One Word Review: Longing
As much as I relish in heavy metal with all its glory of powerful guitars, fast drumming and high pitched vocals, I am also in love with certain flavors of melodic rock where a passionate voice, piano and personal lyrics, in a usually very soft way make a special connection. Similar for both, vastly different approaches, is that without a convincing emotional core it just doesn't work.
Fortunately Robby Valentine hits this nail right on the head. I had been looking for his albums for a while and finally found this one at the Sweden Rock Festival a few years back. The Magic Infinity is his second solo album and was released in 1993. So, it's melodic rock, it's emotional, but it also has a unique equilibristic approach, which is often surprising and constantly entertaining (Like Queen on steroids).
There is a wide dynamic in the music and this is often used to catch the listener off guard when extra impact is needed. It works wonderfully. Angel of my Heart is an example of this. Here the acoustic guitar enters the sound with a certain "wow-effect". The dual lead vocals make the song soar even more.
There is a symphonic edge to the music. An example is in Miss You Eternally at 3:52, where the orchestration lifts the song to new heights and keeps it from becoming stale. No Turning Back is an obvious choice to showcase that symphonic edge. The song has a definite Queen vibe, especially in its middle to last section, and comes off as a successful, musically virtuous example of what the band is capable of. The way the song rises to its chorus is brilliant, and I would have loved if the chorus could make that feeling explode, but instead the song sort of peaks right before the chorus and then the chorus starts over and peaks again at the end.
Speaking of influences, a Beatles vibe emanates from The Reconciliation, so thick it feels like homage.
While his songwriting skills are impressive, Robby Valentine's voice is absolutely amazing. He brings something deeply emotional to the table, which sets off sparks against the soft musical backdrop. He goes all out and hits some amazing high notes when needed and brings the lyrics to life in a convincing way without becoming sentimental. A barrage of harmonies add to the overall impression.
There are several ballads on the album. Each of these work because there is the feeling that everything sung or played, is delivered with utmost sincerity, feeling and empathy. There are so many moments where I have to just sit back and smile while enjoying that, yes! This is a musician, who is simply overflowing with joy for what he is doing. It can really be felt.
Don't make me wait forever is the icing on a sweetly layered cake of ballads. The song is so infectious, has a wonderful melody and an ultra-smooth execution. Robby's opening lines send shivers down the spine. The build-up to the first chorus is a showcase of how Robby uses his voice to create an astonishing atmosphere, where each word sung can be felt deep inside. It is a remarkable feat that this song works as well as it does.
From here on Wild Child continues down a more rocking path, where you will find vocal harmonies and a mesmerizing chorus coming at you from any direction. I Need Your Love speeds things up further.
Megaman is an odd mix of rock, bagpipes and a children's choir. Somehow it works in a brilliant and fun way. This Japanese edition has two bonus tracks. A World of You And Me is a beautiful ballad where voice and acoustic guitar complete each other. Valentine's Overture Part II (A Martian on Earth) was originally supposed to end the album and Part I was supposed to open it, but Part II ended up as a bonus track on the Japanese edition instead. It's a superb symphonic 12 minute experimental epic and I can only imagine how the album would have felt if the original idea had been carried out.
A special nod goes to the guitar work on the album. It's excellent, with solos that are melodic, sharp and tight.
The production is nothing short of fantastic. A clear full-bodied sound that is bombastic, dynamic and demands to be heard as loud as possible.
If you have a soft spot for AOR, laced with keyboard, emotion and delicately virtuous vocals then this is an essential purchase. I am currently discovering the rest of Robby Valentine's varied back catalogue. One thing is certain: This is a little gem.
Written By Steen
Online: Tuesday, June 18, 2013
No Turning Back
Don't Make Me Wait Forever