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Album Review

"You freak me out again
Joni Lynn
The sun only shines for you
And I don't mean nothing
I can't find the "me" in "me and you"
As you try to think for two
And that's what's finally done us in"

One Word Review: Gem

Dissonance is the exact opposite of what this album brings.

Back in 2008, Enuff Z'nuff brought a limited edition of Dissonance to the US Rocklahoma festival. I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a copy (Thanks Michael!) and from the first listen, I was sold. There was no question about it; the band was back on a high after the somewhat messy affair that was their 2004 album, ? (Question Mark). Dissonance was later released officially in 2010 with four added songs. Sadly, the four extra songs are average and add nothing to an already fantastic album, only the feeling that the album loses focus. I also prefer the tracklisting on this limited edition. It has a much better flow. The sound is cleaner on the official release though.

Lead singer, Donnie Vie was back in the band after 7 years in the dark, "A lost weekend" as he called it at the time. This brought the essential Enuff Z'nuff songwriting team, Chip & Donnie, back together. The sparks were clearly flying again and the result is superb songs and magic moments. As of 2013, Donnie has left the band again and is touring as a solo artist. Meanwhile Enuff Z'nuff has teamed up with Johnny Monaco, the guy who left the band prior to this album and who originally took Donnie's place as lead singer, when he stopped touring with the band in 2002. Johnny's back, for the second time. The circus moves on, but I am just grateful that these guys are still in the business of making music, one way or another.

Back to the album. Jake E Lee, known from Ozzy Osbourne and Badlands among others, is now credited as guitarist, while Vinnie Castaldo has joined as the new drummer after Ricky Parent passed away to cancer in October 2007 - R.I.P.

The music is undeniably Enuff Z'nuff's special brand of Rock, with Donnie's voice, the unforgettable melodies and the Beatles influence in place. The album also moves forward as the songs have a fresh, mature feel to them. It feels like a new leaf has been turned over.

But one thing in particular made me think that the cooperation between Chip and Donnie has not been as close as in the past. I'm missing Chip's harmonies in a few songs and that is a shame. This would have lifted an already fantastic song like Roll Away to new heights. Donnie is doing a few harmonies himself here, but it just doesn't fulfill the potential the song has. Still, as I said, it is fantastic in this incarnation and was my first favorite of the album. The opening is pure Enuff Z'nuff with Donnie singing in a soft voice filled with soul and feeling. The melody is memorable and many small touches enhance the song. I can't help but smile every single time I hear a particular rhyme this song offers. Relaxed and utterly charming is what this song is, and only one Chip away from hitting the jackpot.

Several songs deal with what has happened from 2001-2008, in particular the moving Joni Lynn, where the wound from Donnie's failed marriage is torn open and bared to all. The song develops with many listens and has a haunting staying power that makes it unforgettable. Chip's bass work stands out as brilliant and Donnie's singing is filled with emotion, in what may be his finest moment ever. The song is expressed with heart and soul in a way that feels real and it reaches a pinnacle near the end where ear-melting harmonies make the song soar. There is magic here, with the ending still bringing on a chilling sensation with each listen, five years down the road. Joni Lynn has grown over the years and has become my favorite song from the band. That is no small feat since my list of favorite Enuff Z'nuff songs totals 77 great tracks.

A natural follow-up to Joni Lynn is Altered States, which adds a positive vibe and deals with moving on, through MySpace no less. This is Enuff Z'nuff and it feels good. I feel that Altered States is the closely related brother to All Right from the "10" album. Both rhythm and vibe has similarities. Another favorite and what a drive!

Throughout the album Chip absolutely smokes on the bass. Fortunately, the bass is high in the mix and easily enjoyed. Already in the opening title track it is evident how important the bass is in the music, as it adds a certain drive to the whole thing, as well as ├╝ber cool details. The title track has a harder edge that works well. The drive in the main verse is a definite highlight. At first I hated the ending part, where Donnie Vie's voice, screaming and distorted, puts an unfortunate end to the song, but with repeated listens it makes more sense. It does fit nicely with the meaning of the song but could have been executed better.

Look no further than the fantastic middle section of Lazy Dazy for an example of the Beatles influence, that has always been an important element in the band. I tired of the chorus after the first 5 listens but this passage saves the entire song and gives it a special vibe.

Fine Line is another highlight with a lot to discover. Details are hidden in both guitar and bass, while Donnie's singing is engaging in a open, right-in-your-face kind of way.

High is probably my least favorite song as it doesn't seem to have the same infectious charm of the rest. Still, a good song with a standout guitar solo. Playground begins with a fun kind of Batman meets Blues Brothers vibe. Fun is the keyword here and the song gets better and better with each listen, the layered chorus being a superb highlight.

As the city, album closer Chicago oozes with atmosphere. The song has a slightly different production than the rest and Chip also sings lead vocals on it. It works very well, as he gives the song the perfect vibe. Definitely a grower.

Like the very best Enuff Z'nuff albums, Dissonance has moments and songs, which cross that magical borderline, where they touch something deep within and wrap me up in a sea of chills. This is music that makes me feel something and it stays interesting due to strong songwriting.

Dissonance is a wonderful effort. If you are new to Enuff Z'nuff then this is as perfect a starting point as any.

Written By Steen
Online: Thursday, November 7, 2013

Video Section

Joni Lynn

Altered States