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Firefly - 2003 Automatic

John Pratt - vocals
John Thomas - lead guitar
Bob Gilles - rhythm guitar
Ron Wikso - drums
Michael Alemania - keyboards
Roger Feits - bass

I'd read some pretty discouraging reviews about this band's early material. Two prior albums and not a lot to show for it. However, Round Three sees a return to form, and with a line-up that's pretty classy to boot. All of the members have had starts in previous melodic rock incarnations, and for 'Automatic', we're in the zone occupied by the likes of Two Fires, Tall Stories, Enuff Znuff and Tyketto. Singer John Pratt has a hint of Steve Perry (or is that Kevin Chalfant) stuck in his microphone, though his 'rough around the edge' approach adds a bit of welcome 'dirt' to precedings, ensuring this 'Automatic' is not so squeaky clean, which can only be a good thing.

The Songs
Firstly, lets zoom in on an absolute killer.. 'If You're Lucky'. Admittedly mid-tempo, but it melts ya in a moment! The acoustic ballad is kinda nice too, but doesn't vary greatly throughout it's 3.47m duration. The other slowie of note is 'Sky High', very melodic, nice guitar lines and the vocal harmonies are smooth. When they rough it up, as on 'Showdown', 'Ride The Fire' and 'She'll Never Know', they head off in a direction similar to Tall Stories, though without the superior production. The opener 'Automatic' sees Pratt sailing close to the wind as a Perry/Chalfant clone, the song a pleasant enough excursion down the Boulevard of AOR Dreams.

In Summary
If there is a slight let-down it's in the material, which is mainly generic. It really needs to have the 'magic' wand waved over it. No problem with the musicianship, but if we use an analogy: even Michael Shumacher would have problems driving a Skoda!! However, this is an encouraging release. A decent budget, producer, and some exceptional songwriting would go some way to lighting up Firefly's night sky!

Track Time: 40.07

Track Listing:
01 Automatic
02 Show Down
03 Sky High
04 Yesterday's News
05 Ride The Fire
06 If You're Lucky
07 Another Measure
08 She'll Never Know
09 Animalize
10 If What It Takes

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