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Articles Home » 2016 Articles » First Signal - 2016 One Step Over The Line
First Signal - 2016 One Step Over The Line

ARTIST: First Signal
ALBUM: One Step Over The Line
LABEL: Frontiers
YEAR: 2016


LINEUP: Harry Hess - lead and backing vocals * Michael Palace - guitars , bass * Daniel Flores - keyboards, drums

Additional Musicians: Francesco Marras - guitar solo on 'She is Getting Away' and 'Love Gets Through' * Darren James Smith, Alessandro Del Vecchio, Nigel Bailey, Daniel Flores, Rolf Pilotti, Angelica Rylin - backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Love Run Free * 02 Love Gets Through * 03 Still Pretending * 04 Broken * 05 Karma * 06 Minute Of Your Time * 07 She Is Getting Away * 08 December Rain * 09 Weigh Me In * 10 Pedestal * 11 One Step Over The Line



Daniel Flores has been getting good raps for his production work on a handful of projects. He has recently finished working on Harry Hess' new album 'One Step Over The Line' under the First Signal banner. Truth be told, Hess could probably have mixed it himself. However, an alternative viewpoint is often a good thing in this industry.. yes? The debut First Signal album came out in 2010, so it's been awhile. It got a solid review here at GDM, and I'm leaning on giving this latest one a similar hearing. Flores has taken over from Dennis Ward on this album, and as you can expect, the output/flavour is much different than the debut. I love the way the guitar melodies act much like keyboard parts (they may in fact be keyboard parts sounding like guitars), giving some of the songs ambiance and depth. However, getting through the album in one take was not possible, more on that shortly.

The Songs
'Love Run Free' sets the stage. Good intro, solid verses, though a slight change of angle in the pre-chorus offsets the track before the chorus rights everything, only for the solo spot to dislodge the momentum again. 'Love Gets Through' is blessed with a terrific chorus in what is a 'busy' song, I think keeping things simple throughout would've been a better approach as there is too much going on musically. 'Still Pretending' has one foot inside and outside of the melodic rock bubble. It comes across as a modern rock tune which could be passed to today's radio stations for airplay. The song 'Broken' isn't as forlorn as the title might suggest. The initial acoustic overlay is bright and pleasant, while the contrasting power chorus changes things up. 'Minute Of Your Time' is a lyrical struggle on trying to keep a relationship together. The music wraps around the theme in equally dramatic fashion. You'd need to be a social worker or counsellor to understand what's going on.. lol!

I do like 'She Is Getting Away'. There's a load of musical elements here that I enjoy, and I went deep into a pair of headphones to discover them. It's a busy track with many parts coming together in the mix. Sometimes that can be a distraction, but if it's bought together properly, then the proper workflow can be achieved. What does the song-title 'Weigh Me In' actually mean? It's a desperate sounding ballad, is someone late for an episode of 'World's Biggest Loser'? In jest, I'm sure it's not, but that song-title is not something I'd apply to a project like this. The title track 'One Step Over The Line' is left till the end, and it was well worth the wait. Well actually, I cheated, because I couldn't follow the original track order. I really needed to mix it up to get a different flow. Still, a powerful track and album finale.

In Summary
At the end of the day, I thought the overall mix was pretty good. I happen to like the way Daniel Flores puts his projects together. Admittedly, he doesn't do too many, so his works aren't saturating the market, though the sonic similarity to the Find Me project is a bit too close for comfort. The vocals from Hess sound great here. At the top of his range, his voice sounds as if it's being dragged across broken glass, but it adds to the charm of some of the songs. As mentioned, many of the songs sound 'too busy' arrangement wise, and when listening to this in a hi-fidelity environment, it's like trying to juggle six balls at once. As a result, some of you will probably enjoy this, some less so.

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#1 | jeffrey343 on June 12 2016 06:07:16
All very good points, as I was mentally writing a review each of the many times I played it last week. I agree that the songs can be a bit busy. And too many of them sound too similar and follow the same formula. They're all good, to be sure - this album does have some really good songs. I like the pairing of the first two songs and the pairing of 'Minute Of Your Time' and 'She Is Getting Away' a lot.

I think Flores did a superb job on the Find Me album last year with keeping it sounding fresh throughout. It is a very similar type of album to this one, but there was enough variety throughout it so that it never got samey. Not quite so much with this one.

I do really like this album, but it falls below a few others this year because of those issues. It stands a good chance of making my top ten, and at least it will be one that either stays in the rotation or contributes several songs to workout playlists. George's 8.5 is fair, although I might bump it up to 9.0. But I think it could have been even higher with just a few adjustments.
#2 | Cimozzen on June 14 2016 00:17:01
My main problems with it was Harry Hess' voice. It sounded so coarse and raspy, I did not think he performed that well at all here, especially on the high notes. The mixing is just too 'jumbled' with all of the instruments.
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