One Word Review: Exceptional
Back in 2003, I dismissed Pride Of Lions instantly, while watching the video for Sound of Home for the first time. It took four years, "The Roaring Of Dreams" and Alanna's glowing review of that album, before I gave the band another chance, and thank god for that, because I had clearly missed something special. From that moment on, I was sold on the soul and emotion packed into a soft embrace of melodic rock, and Pride Of Lions have since become among my favorite bands. Top 25 at least. One highlight of my relation to Pride Of Lions, was having Astonish You sung in the church at my wedding, in a fantastic cover version by the amazing Claes Wegener.
So, obviously I have a history with this band, and I look forward to any new release with both high expectations and a slight hesitation, because it is so easy for this to become too much. Pride of Lions balance on a knife's edge and they somehow succeed, by their sheer determination, empathy and pure, openhearted joy of playing and singing, all brought to life by superb songwriting skills.
Pride Of Lions is a collaboration between former Survivor songwriter, guitarist and keyboard player, Jim Peterik and vocalist Toby Hitchcock. Fearless is their fifth album and it showcases everything special about the band. Right from the opening orchestral rise in momentum, it shines through that here is something as simple as an album about the pure joy of music and life in general. Yet, to call it simple would be misleading, it takes a special talent to create something as beautiful and confident as this, a talent that few have. Jim Peterik has it in spades though and puts it to full use.
Jim Peterik has always had a unique ability to write songs, which resonate with me. After discovering Survivor late in life, I've become enchanted with his ability to nail certain emotions in his music. He is one of the rare songwriters, who has a deeply empathic, honest approach and it shines through in both his lyrics and music, which inhabit a charming innocence and a sincere romantic angle. Nik van Dyk's lyrics (Redemption) is the closest I can come to a comparison.
It feels like everything comes from the heart, without thought of how others might react, simply the truth as he sees it, passing it on to anyone who feels like listening.
It gives the music a special warmth and a feeling of soul, and deep down, it just feels honest, and that is something I appreciate.
Jim and Toby harmonize in ways, that are made of deep valleys and soaring peaks. Their voices were clearly made for each other, and they are fortunately making the most of it, with duets and harmonies that sing. As their voices mesh, a chill of epic proportions often rises along my spine and with it, a triumphant feeling of pure joy. It is the power of music and I relish in those moments.
Absolute favorites of the album are In Caricature and The Light In Your Eyes. In Caricature just flows. And soars. It is as close to AOR perfection as it gets and the exchanges between Jim and Toby are a wonder. Obvious highlights of the song include the way their voices join in unity, right before the final chorus at 2:44 and the way the keyboard underlines the end of each chorus, a classic Survivor touch and vintage Peterik.
The Light In Your Eyes feels like a successor to Let Me Let You Go from "The Roaring Of Dreams". Toby sings with a ton of emotion, and the way he eases the song from verse to chorus is so impressive. I'm sold to the emotions every time. I love the way the chorus flows with utmost grace, but above all, I love the way the lyrics and music fit into one whole.
These two songs showcase the immense sweeping grandeur, which is a Pride Of Lions specialty, and they are worth the entire album.
Fortunately the album is littered great songs along the way, and there are really no duds among them, just pure, sugary notes or AOR goodness, straight from the heart.
Take the opener, All I See Is You, a mesmerizing, hectic hunt for that blinding perfection, which doesn't come along too often, or what about The Tell, where Jim takes center stage in a smooth, laid back song with a special atmosphere.
Silent Music is perhaps the most obvious showcase of that romantic outlook, I mentioned earlier. It delivers images of love and romance, by means of music, in a way that I don't experience very often. It is beyond sweet, in an incredibly charming way and feels like a warm, comforting embrace, in the same way as Astonish You did ten years ago, and still does today. No mean feat.
Everlasting Love handles the essence of young love in a way that is so sweet, feels so true, and becomes a celebration of the fact that this is not just wishful thinking, it can actually come true. If that was not the case, how could anyone write a song such as this?
Another favorite moment is Faster Than A Prayer and the "When Seconds Matter" part, an affectionate nod to his days with Survivor. There are several of these nods to previous albums among the songs and each will bring on a smile.
Album closer, Unmasking The Mystery puts a slight epic touch to the album and finishes on a graceful note.
As you can clearly tell, Fearless hits right home with me, and for that I salute Jim Peterik and Toby Hitchcock. Keep 'em coming, please.
Written By Steen
Online: Friday, March 3, 2017
All I See Is You
The Light In Your Eyes