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Articles Home » 2011 Articles » Fiona - 2011 Unbroken
Fiona - 2011 Unbroken

ALBUM: Unbroken
LABEL: Life On The Moon Records
YEAR: 2011


LINEUP: Fiona - vocals * Tommy Denander - guitars * Bobby Messano - guitars * Dai Smith - guitars, programming * Paul Jones - rhythm guitar * James Christian - bass, backing vocals * Jeff Batter - keyboards * James Jamal - drums * Robin Beck - duet vocals on 'This Heart', backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Loved Along The Way * 02 Broken * 03 I've Released You * 04 Shadows Of The Night * 05 Badge Of Love * 06 Wild One * 07 This Heart (Duet With Robin Beck) * 08 Get Yer Kix * 09 Salt On My Wings * 10 I Love You But Shut Up * 11 Everything You Are



While Pat Benatar pretty much owned the 1980's as the pop/rock queen apparent, some other female talent were on the fringe attempting a breakthrough. One of these ever-hopefuls was Fiona Flanagan, who simply went by her first name. Heavyweight associations with producer Beau Hill and Kip Winger and a recording deal with Atlantic Rcords showed some promise, but most of it slipped under the radar. A brace of albums from 1985 to 1992, and then kapoof.. off into the New Jersey sunset for marriage and kids.. until.. some twenty years later.. and wow.. our Fiona looks as hot as ever. It's like she's never been away! Featuring a few familiar names, her new album 'Unbroken' is released on the small Life On The Moon Records, and has distribution arranged in the USA via Retrospect Records, and in the UK by Cargo Records. An intersting array of songwriters have worked with Fiona on a bunch of new songs, including Holly Knight, Marc Tanner (of 70's outfit the Marc Tanner Band), James Christian (who also produces this CD), Tommy Denander, and English pop songwriting team The Elements. As with much of Fiona's past material, some of it is superb while others are hit and miss. Inspired and encouraged to get back into the groove again amid constant badgering from longtime fans, industry buddies, 'Unbroken' is the result.

The Songs
The album contains a great entree with 'Loved Along The Way', with a motif that sounds very familiar, but it's Fiona's voice that is most welcoming. Denander has a hand putting this one together. Fiona's powerful vocal is at full stretch for 'Broken', a harder and modern-edged track, along with 'I've Released You' which is also modern-tinged with a shuffly back-beat. Good to hear the aforementioned Pat Benatar get one of her hits 'Shadows Of The Night' reworked here. Holly Knight's handiwork is all over 'Badge Of Love', with the familiar arrangement, parping keys contained in a musical zone that Fiona easily makes her own. 'Wild One' is a pumping hard rocker though as some other reviews have pointed out, the lyrics that Fiona is belting out are slightly out of context with reality. Good also to see friend Robin Beck joining in for a duet on 'This Heart', a ballad with two of AOR's premier ladies hammering out some power vocals. 'Get Yer Kix' returns to that 80's hard rock sound, with a street prowling vibe and gang-chant vocals. 'Salt On My Wings' is a deep slow-burn rocker not unlike the style of recent House Of Lords efforts. Perhaps it's a James Christian castaway, but the similarity to HOL is pretty easy to pick. 'I Love You But Shut Up' is a fun-time romp with an unapologetic attitude. Completing the album is a tribute to one of my favourite bands: Prophet, and a cover of 'Everything You Are' (R.I.P Dean Fasano), which is a very melodic effort, but quite different sounding to the original classic. I like Fiona's rendition of this one though, even the climatic vocal cascade toward the end.

In Summary
Most of the 80's lovers will appreciate the return of Fiona to the AOR and melodic rock community. There's no doubt that the lady is talented and you just can't keep that sort of person away from the spotlight for too long, even if it did take twenty years! Fiona will make sporadic appearances from now into the new year, including an Unplugged Gig in Cologne, Germany where she will be accompanied by guitarists Vic Heart and Tommy Denander. A welcome return!

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#1 | reyno-roxx on November 20 2011 12:36:09
Possibly stemming from the fact that the Amanda Blue version of 'Talk To Me' deserved to be a hit rather than Fiona's, which was all over US radio upon release, I always felt that Fiona was hugely overrated in the 80s and recall giving one of her albums an absolutely scathing review in 'Kerrang!'
Must admit that this new album is rather good.
The cover of 'Shadows Of The Night' is more in keeping with D.L. Byron's original rather than the Benatar version and the Prophet cover is delivered exceptionally well.
#2 | jefflynnefan on November 27 2011 01:42:40
Thanks for the review. Might get the autographed copy she has available at her site.
#3 | sabace on March 02 2012 09:41:59
reyno rox I remember that review, and remember thinking that it was a hatchet job! KERRANG liked to build people up and tear them down! I was a bit sensitive at the time as Fiona is Irish and her parents are both from dublin . I was being tribalistic! lol
#4 | reyno-roxx on March 02 2012 10:44:45
Wasn't a hatchet job, I just didn't like the record and have always felt that Fiona was overrated as as singer. Probably went too far with some of the comments - noting the duet with Kip Winger was about as erotic as a dose of crabs - but do think this comeback album is pretty decent.
#5 | sabace on March 02 2012 11:05:04
reyno you would seem to be in the minority, considering the amount of top musos she has worked with over the years! still you are entitled to your opinion .
#6 | Eric on March 02 2012 12:09:36
I agree with Dave on Fiona. I bought the debut based on 'Talk To Me' and her amazing overbite in the video but was hardly impressed with the record and further albums did even less for me. I too thought the Winger duet was yukky, right up there with the Wilson/ Reno gagfest. Have yet to hear her new one although based on her past, I have a lot of hesitation.
#7 | reyno-roxx on March 02 2012 12:28:36
It isn't just me then Eric!

sabace, it's true that she's worked with muso's of a very high calibre, so all power to her, but I think what irked me was that Amanda Blue was a much better singer and if anyone deserved to have a hit with it - I was in the States at the time Fiona's version was released and it was all over radio - it was Amanda. Much of the press she generated in the UK was mainly down to Malcolm Dome fancying her like mad.
#8 | englandashes on March 02 2012 13:04:39
Yes, in musical terms Fiona never did nothing for me either, as can be said for many female singers in AOR (acknowledge may be too much of a sweeping statement) although I can listen to the likes of Saraya and Witness.
#9 | Eric on March 02 2012 13:36:46
That's a good point. There are very few female vocalists that work for me and usually if they do they are more in the progressive realm i.e. Kate Bush, Annie Haslam.
#10 | sabace on March 02 2012 18:40:40
reyno rox - deserved has nothing to do with it! fiona had the hit, amanda blue did'nt . the actual merits of either girls voice is just another opinion . maybe malcom dome was right ?
#11 | jeffrey343 on March 05 2012 01:07:22
Fiona built a nice legend off one song - 'Talk To Me'. I don't recall hearing it on the radio (it apparently made it to 64 on the U.S. Hot 100), but I fell in love with her after the video for that song. Great song, I have a thing for hot redheads, and with me being a sax player, I appreciated the superb sax solo. I had not heard the Shanghei version until about three years ago. While it is definitely a good version, and Amanda Blue has a technically better voice, the Fiona version is still a desert island song for me.

The only other Fiona song I had heard until about five years ago was the duet with Kip Winger 'Everything You Do (You're Sexing Me)'. I loved that one too.

I did get all four Fiona albums about four years ago. I don't think any of the first four approached the level of most of the debut, but I can create a pretty darn nice 'best of' of ten songs from those four.

I didn't realize she was coming out with a new album in 2011 until I somehow stumbled across the info that it was less than a month from release. So of course I got it. Overall, it is pretty good, probably to me her second best. It has the modern AOR sound that a lot of releases have these days. On the opener, it sounds great until the 'hey hey hey' vocals kick in; those just don't sound right prodution-wise to me, like they were an afterthought. Doesn't ruin the song, but it does detract from it. That's my favorite of the album, and some others are close.

Two other thoughts... She still looks damn good (especially for 50), and I'd like to hear her sing the tunes on the 2011 Issa release.
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