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Hess - 2012 Living In Yesterday

ALBUM: Living In Yesterday
LABEL: Frontiers
YEAR: 2012
SPONSOR: Frontiers (Haulix)


LINEUP: Harry Hess - lead and backing vocals, keyboards, guitars

Guests: Peter Lesperance - guitars, bass * Creighton Doane - drums * Howie Simon, Magnus Karlsson, Chris Green - guitar solos * Tommy Denander - guitars, keyboards * Peter Whitfield - string arrangements, violin * Sarah Brandwood-Spencer, Paulette Bayley - violins * Simon Turner, Nick Trygstad - cellos * Marcie Free, Darren Smith - backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Living In Yesterday * 02 Reach For You * 03 It's Over * 04 Don't Leave Me * 05 What If * 06 Nothing Lasts Forever * 07 Falling Down * 08 I Live For You * 09 I Don't Wanna Want You * 10 Where To Run



Two years ago I was one of many who lauded Harry Hess' First Signal album. It was an album which was one of Frontiers top 3 albums of that year, and to this day I stand by that statement. I also recalled asking whether Harem Scarem might ever come back onto the scene, but if not we can always fall back on Hess to deliver the goods in a solo capacity. He does so with 'Living In Yesterday', featuring those time-honoured vocals which we've been accustomed to since 1991's debut Scarem album. While First Signal featured a handful of Frontiers associated musicians through producer Dennis Ward's contacts, 'Living In Yesterday' features an assorted guest list including former Scarem buddies Pete Lesperance, Creighton Doane, Darren Smith; plus other luminaries such as Tommy Denander, Marcie Free, plus six-string metal merchants Howie Simon and Magnus Karlsson. The bases are covered then; AOR, melodic rock and heavy metal - Hess has orchestrated a team that can do it all, though the final result isn't as well-rounded as the assembled team's credentials. Everything is kept in melodic check, without the need to diversify to all points of the musical compass, but unfortunately I come away feeling indifferent about the whole album.

The Songs
Scarem supporters should enjoy the familiar strains filtering through the opening title track. It's a solid opening, but from here on in, you're not going to get a wide variety of sounds as we progress through the playing order. 'Reach For You' reaches out toward modern stylings and is nice enough. The acoustic ballad 'It's Over' sounds as terminating as Arnold Schwarzenegger's marriage and really has the taste of 'cookie-cutter' all over it. The acoustics aren't quite done away with yet; as 'Don't Leave Me' starts out mildly before lifting to a nu-breed styled rocker. I thought this sub-genre was dead? Obviously not. Hess is finding it difficult to leave mid-tempo territory it would seem. With 'What If' he's caught driving the family Prius wagon whereas he should be hitting the road in a sporty coupe built for speed. 'Nothing Lasts Forever' recalls a modern rock stance; kinda poppy, kinda radio-geared, and kinda suitable to the teenagers of today. Oh dear. 'Falling Down' again is high on the pleasantries but not a lot else. So too 'I Live For You' which could trip up over itself if the tempo wasn't increased. Finally we've got a point of difference with 'I Don't Wanna Want You', which rollicks along in typical 2012 fashion. It might be derivative of today's pop culture but at least it's different for this album at least. The grandiose orchestrated ballad 'Where To Run' has that euro-sound which you've heard on Place Vendome and Sunstorm albums, and by now you'd be questioning Hess about the songtitle and its placing at the tail of the album.

In Summary
I'll give Hess his due. 'Living In Yesterday' is far better than his previous solo effort from 2003 'Just Another Day', but you'd have to question him on the merits of both solo albums, and why exactly does he have this predilection with time? For mine, I think I'll stick with the First Signal album which is far superior to this. For Hess fans don't expect much change. For non fans, I'd suggest that you have better choices elsewhere.

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#1 | jeffrey343 on October 03 2013 18:38:59
I like this more than George does. It's not quite as good as the First Signal album, and George's points are all valid, but it is a good collection of songs. I don't find it as "samey" as a lot of stuff coming out these days.

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