While hardly a household name for most folks, if you've been following popular music over the last decade or so, you know singer, songwriter, and producer Chris Braide's work. He's written and produced songs for some big names in the pop music industry including Beyonce, Britney Spears, Christian Aguilera, among others. He even had a song in a Bud Light commercial which appeared during this year's Super Bowl.
Now I could care less about those pop/porn divas, though Beyonce is pretty hot, and if you see me with a can of Bud Light in my hand, just shoot me then and there. But my first acquaintance with Braide came with his association with Geoff Downes called DBA and their 2013 album Pictures of You, a superb and pleasant album of AOR melodic rock.
With a title reminding you of a certain Emmy Lou Harris album, Braide brings his third solo album, Fifty Dollar Planets and Twenty Cent Stars. Like the aforementioned DBA album it's another platter of proper, pleasant, and entertaining melodic rock ear candy. I don't know what impresses me more, Braide's skillful songwriting with cogent lyrics, catchy hooks, and strong melodies or his wistful and thoroughly pleasing vocal style. Combine this with the support of some exceptional musicians in support and his unearthly ability for proper production, and Braide becomes a pop melodic rock genius.
Honestly, while I didn't like every song here, there's much to enjoy, and even the lackluster songs are likely better than most mainstream songwriting. I found the front seven of the album the most interesting and pleasing. Stand outs include Fifty Dollar Planets, a nearly 70's style rocker, the lyrically playful odes to girlfriends of This For The Girl and Fascinating, and and the smooth soaring vocal arrangement of Let Me Love You. I could see how any of these songs could end up in some hot shot pop diva or dude's next album. Then I got a bit weary at the end, with Sophia, What's Going On In Your Head, Take What You Can, and the overly long Agent Wilde seeming a tad slow and lifeless, not as deft as what preceded. Again, just because these songs didn't connect with me, it doesn't make them bad songs or cripple the album. Chris Braide can still write pop melodic rock songs with skill.
With Fifty Dollar Planets and Twenty Cent Stars, Chris Braide shows his songwriting genuis creating another proper and pleasing album pop melodic rock.
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