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Val, The - 2012 Back

ARTIST: Val, The
LABEL: Self Released
YEAR: 2012


LINEUP: Gabrielle de Val - vocals * Alfonso Samos - guitars, bass, drums, background vocals * David Erick Criado - keyboards, background vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 A Kiss In A Dragon Night * 02 Dreaming * 03 Pay (For The Lonely Nights) * 04 Trapped Between The Lines * 05 Johnny's Got A Red Car * 06 Hold On * 07 Back * 08 When Midnight Comes * 09 The Devil's In The Bend * 10 Every Beat Of The Heart * 11 The Unwritten Songs * 12 The Age Of The Sun



I picked this album up on a blog just recently. I haven't reviewed anything out of Spain for a good long while. Not since the heady days of Nexx and 91 Suite, which goes back some 10 years or so. The Val are a trio based around German born vocalist Gabrielle de Val Koenzen (shortened to de Val, hence the band name). She's been in Spain for some years now, the origins of this trio based around an outfit called Ying Yang going back into the 90's. That band broke up long ago, but reformed in 2010 with a yearning that unfinished business was beckoning. Gabrielle has an image similar to Romeos Daughter's Leigh Matty, while the music is caught somewhere between Roxette, The Bright and Heart. Gabrielle's voice is the glue for this record, and she sounds fantastic throughout. 'Back', their first album is a self-released affair that really should be better known among AOR trainspotters, it's pretty good if you like that female-fronted sub-genre which I know most of the readership here does!

The Songs
There's some sneaky tech sounds filtering through the intro to 'A Kiss In A Dragon Night', but the piano soon becomes the instrument of choice, as this song weaves mesmerizing melodies around your senses.

'Dreaming' includes some introductory dream like synths, again the piano is the lead, the song converts to a mostly breezy pop laced effort.

'Pay (For The Lonely Nights)' delivers a rock-based payload, with nice Toto like keyboard work, particularly on the chorus. The guitar solo is also worth a mention too!

'Trapped Between The Lines' is accentuated melody, with lovely vocals, sweeping orchestration, with piano and acoustic guitar lifting the song even higher.

I wasn't too keen on 'Johnny's Got A Red Car'. An uptempo pop rocker that was a little too throwaway for my liking.

'Hold On' takes the position of a pure ballad. The multi-vocal harmonies makes this a very rich composition. The background strings adds to the occasion.

The title-track 'Back' is a cool tune with a hint of a blues based backdrop, but the string plucks brings it back into an orchestral pop situation. The guitar lines from Alfonso Samos remind me of the late Gary Moore's work on his instrumental hit 'The Loner'. Nice track this one..

'When Midnight Comes' is an acoustic dominated track, commercial too which adds to its appeal. If you close your eyes, you could envisage this orignating out of Texas or Nashville. High praise indeed!

'The Devil's In The Band' is another track that feels like its soul is smack down in the middle of the USA heartland, I wonder if a bit of radio airplay stateside will help introduce this lot to American audiences?

'Every Beat Of My Heart' is very easy on the ear, feather light pop which would give our Texan friends The Bright a run for their money!

'The Unwritten Songs' is the longest track on the album. At 6 minutes, it doesn't overstay its welcome at all. Gabrielle's voice shifts around the soundscape. It's not quite as diverse as her heroine Kate Bush, but still manages to convince this listener at least.

'The Age Of The Sun' is the finale, and goes out with a bang. You could be forgiven you were listening to that famous riff lifted from Bob Seger's 'Hollywood Nights' for an instant, but thankfully the song moves off into another space.

In Summary
This is a surprising strong album from an unheralded outfit, which, as I said before, deserve far more attention than it's probably getting. The songwriting is exceptionally good, and the delivery is classy, straddling pop/rock, AOR and a slight dose of west-coast. With Gabrielle leading the way, The Val have a focal point, but don't forget that David Erick Criado and Alfonso Samos are key components to the band. Try and track this one down, if not as an original CD or a download from somewhere. It really is worth your effort and your listening time!

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#1 | gdazegod on September 02 2012 10:55:21
YouTube Video:
#2 | Eric on September 03 2012 00:43:59
Really nice and yes, more than a dash of Roxette and The Bright.
#3 | machoman on September 03 2012 10:14:56
Yes really nice and finally not too difficult to track down. You can order it directly from the band here :
#4 | airborne on September 22 2012 17:03:18
Highly recommended.

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