JOHN WAITE – ROUGH & TUMBLE (REVIEW)

Out 21st January 2011 on Frontiers Records

With a career spanning over 30 years John Waite is a well know name in AOR circles, yet one that has always been more popular stateside than his native UK and Europe.  Hopefully the balance can be restored somewhat with his new solo album “Rough & Tumble”.

Home to 10 new tracks (and 2 bonus tracks) the album sees Waite collaborate for the most part with Matchbox 20’s Kyle Cook and the results is a high quality melodic rock record with a contemporary classic rock feel.  The album was recorded between Nashville and California and this should give you a pretty good indicator of its style.

John Waite’s voice has never been about soaring power ala Steve Perry and you could argue he definitely has his comfort zone but the timbre is what makes his voice special, soul oozes out of his lungs and he’s found a nice balance of material from the bluesy Free/Bad Company-ish tones of the title track with its glorious hook to the more traditional AOR waters of “Shadows Of Love” which manages to stay current yet classic at the same time. There’s a country-ish telecaster twang to “Evil” which is another fine track whilst the tender acoustic ballad of “If You Ever Get Lonely” is a hit single contender, you can feel the California vibe here.  “Skyward” is a semi ballad ala Aerosmith’s “Crazy” whilst the humorous lyrics of “Sweet Rhode Island Red” see the tempo come back up.  The dark blues of “Love’s Going Out Of Style” is another delight, whilst the melodic waters of “Better Off Gone” is another feel good, easy to get into track. “Further The Sky” is a slow blues harking back to the Free waters before “Peace Of Mind” takes a complete U turn into strange waters which fuse spoken words passages with sung verses and choruses, odd lyrically yet it works and is a nice contrast to the rest of the album.  The two bonus tracks are more bluesy numbers and whilst not being as good as whats been before are a nice addition.

“Rough & Tumble” sees John Waite return to studio action in fine style.  This is a strong album from start to finish, easy to get into and digest, the melodies are strong,  with superb vocals and its all wrapped up with a fantastic rootsy yet modern production which is a delight on the ears.

An excellent return and highly recommended.

Rating – 92%

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