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Articles Home » 2013 Articles » Christian, James - 2013 Lay It All On Me
Christian, James - 2013 Lay It All On Me

ARTIST: Christian, James
ALBUM: Lay It All On Me
LABEL: Frontiers
YEAR: 2013


LINEUP: James Christian - lead vocals, background vocals, acoustic guitar, bass * Jorge Salas, Jimi Bell, Shelby Stewart, Tommy Denander - guitars * Jeff Kent - keyboards * BJ Zampa, David Sherman - drums * Robin Beck - background vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Lay It All On Me * 02 Sacred Heart * 03 Day In The Sun * 04 Believe In Me * 05 You're So Bad * 06 Don't Come Near Me * 07 Let It Shine * 08 She's All The Rage * 09 Sincerely Yours * 10 Shot In The Dark * 11 Welcome To Your Future



I've been hankering for a House Of Lords album for some time. Doesn't look as if my request is being heard, so I'll take the next best thing: a James Christian solo album. I'll admit to having some of his earlier albums stashed away but have never got anywhere close to playing them. Bad boy G, so I'll make up for it with his new 2013 effort 'Lay It All On Me'. Luigi has reviewed one of James' albums previously, but I didn't realise how good he was in a solo context. This is a bombastic effort really, big and boisterous, but totally kept within the confines of the melodic hard rock genre. Most of the House Of Lords line-up is here (Bell, Kent, Zampa), while James carries bass and production duties.

The Songs
Listening to thousands of albums over the years, you kinda get an idea as to the merits of a new album usually within the first few minutes of listening to it. 'Lay It All On Me' falls within that framework. Honestly, I don't think there's a dud track here. Let's see if I can justify that. The title track is first up, and yep, this is full and pompous. 'Lay' as in layered, that James and his crew can do so well, and where previously his boss.. a certain Gregg Giuffria was known to lay it on thick and heavy himself. Glorious stuff. Gotta love the impressive 'Sacred Heart', very 80's, less about Dio (name association only) and more about outfits like Dokken and London. 'Day In The Sun' is deceivingly good. Dark and light, full and sparse.. contrasts galore within the 3 minutes 30 runtime. 'Believe In Me' is as good as anything found on James' past discography, check out that synth on the bridge at the 1 min 30 mark. Yeow! There's plenty of keys to be found on 'You're So Bad', but the track is a pumping hard rocker, though it keeps to a clean delivery rather than dirty and rough. The guitars come out for a black cat prowl on 'Don't Come Near Me', a near anthem, especially on the chorus vocal harmonies. 'Let It Shine' is the big swell ballad, lush and airy. Perhaps James was thinking of his mate Jeff Cannata when recording this? It's back to big and bad for the hard rock come metal of 'She's All The Rage'. This track is pretty iron-clad, nothing pink and fluffy about this one. Instead, 'Sincerely Yours' could lay claim to the most bonafide AOR effort here, the dynamics and ambient quality needs to be heard under a set of headphones. For me, 'Shot In The Dark' is the one track that's not quite at the same high level of the other songs, while the album closer 'Welcome To Your Future' is my kinda song. Great lyrics, with hard driving music to match. This one sounds like a Talisman song with Jeff Scott Soto at the forefront.

In Summary
As the Frontiers record label said in their pre-release bio, 'a mature artist, songwriter, producer and performer who meets his fans with another beautifully crafted melodic rock release.' No two ways about it, this album has come like a shot from the blue, and could very well sit inside my top 10 by years end. Yes, it's that good!

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#1 | gdazegod on August 12 2013 12:42:12
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#2 | machoman on August 12 2013 16:04:38
Great set of songs, great singer!
#3 | roadrunner158 on August 19 2013 09:03:16
Yes, a good set of songs - but production is seriously lacking, especially in the drum department.
#4 | jeffrey343 on September 11 2013 03:25:59
On one hand, this is a very nice album, full of great songs that do sound like they could have been on the next HOL album. But on the other hand, the production is not at the standard that one would expect, especially by a major artist on a major label. I put these songs in the mixer with a bunch of other HOL songs. While the songs themselves hold their own, there is a clear difference in the sound quality. I'd really like to hear from someone in the know whether the sound of this album was intentional. He produced his wife's (Robin Beck) album this year, and that sounds fine. The production is not horrible - everything is in tune, which is important - but it is just not as clear and clean. Andrew at MelodicRock says he gave this an 84 rather than 95 because of the production. I do wonder how much his review 'poisoned' this album for me, as I read it before I listened to it. But I would have picked up on the sound quality.

All in all, I'll listen to this a decent amount because the songs are very good. This is a good quality album, but unfortunately not quite what it could have been.
#5 | gdazegod on September 11 2013 05:02:24
No disrespect to Andrew, but his ratings and reasonings haven't really stood the time over the years. Harem Scarem, Mecca, and the godawful 'X' album from Def Leppard are some absolute clangers. My opinion of course.. lol!
#6 | george_the_jack on October 14 2013 19:04:04
A nice collection of songs. There really are some very good songs here, especially the ballads. ''Believe in me'' particularly is the highlight for me. It takes me back to the late 80's style of melodic rock.

Regarding the production, I can't hear any flaws. I listen to the album ripped in lossless format via my listening rig which consists of a decent audio digital decoder, a headphone amp and a good set of headphones and I hear everything spot on. Perhaps James didn't want the stuff to kick as hard as HOL stuff but nonetheless to my ears it's nothing but very well produced.

Another very good album with a pretty secure position within my top ten of the year. 9/10
#7 | jeffrey343 on May 29 2014 19:55:47
Listening to that new House Of Lords album over and over just reminds me of what could have been with this one. I understand that he may have wanted a sound that was less razor-sharp than HOL. But comparing the sound of this one to the new HOL is like comparing the sound of a CD to that of a cassette. I really don't think the songs are any different from HOL (that's a good thing).
#8 | gdazegod on May 29 2014 21:58:00
If we took this discussion one step further, we could also factor in the HoL off-shoot band Maxx Explosion, which sound-wise, is a raw and organic album nothing like the smooth linings of HoL.
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