We haven't heard from vocalist Joe Vana and his Mecca project in nine years. But that is not to say that this talented singer and songwriter has not been busy. After several years of painstaking preparation Vana returns with his second adventure, Undeniable, on Frontiers Records.
There is little doubt: Vana wears his musical influences and in-terests on his sleeve. Undeniable is pure Eighties AOR, melodic rock with a dash of that Westcoast sound. Echoes of Toto, Survivor, and Mr. Mister whisper through this disc. Top this off with well-crafted songs, fine musicianship, and sterling production, and you have another AOR gem. You might say the verdict is, no pun intended, undeniable.
While the crafty songs and Vana's versatile vocal arrangements are pivotal, most notable is the guitar work provided by Vana's son, Joey. The young man is quite gifted and excels on Perfect World, Closing Time, W2W, and From the Start, to mention only a few songs.
The songs themselves are rather diverse, even while still falling under the larger category of AOR. Perfect World and the later W2W offer an edgier side to Mecca's melodic rock; the latter song is definitely the heaviest here. Life's Too Short is a pleasing number as it melds rock fusion with the breeze of Westcoast. While I Know certainly breathes the Westcoast air. Other songs, again while fitting the AOR category, muddy the waters of perception as does Deceptive Cadence. Is it melodic rock? Westcoast? Perhaps a touch of prog? Maybe even a ballad of sorts? It's different, and enjoyable.
Ballads are inevitable in AOR, but how they are conceived on Undeniable is different. For instance, Ten Lifetimes and Did It for Love banter with the ballad motif, yet the former leans more to rock and the latter a soaring anthem. The title track easily blurs the two; it's the best cut here. Ballad fundamentals are likely best heard on As I Walk Alone which offers, mostly, vocals over piano.
If you were amazed and entertained by Joe Vana's first Mecca title, then don't wait: pre-order Undeniable now. This is substantial and significant AOR melodic rock from Mecca. Very recommended.