Steve Overland, with little doubt, is both an institution and icon in the realm of British AOR melodic hard rock. From beginnings with his brother Chris in Wildfire to the legendary band FM, Overland has been one of the premier and consistent voices of the genre. He returns with his fourth solo album, Contagious, once more on England's Escape Music label.
Gorging ourselves on a plethora of words regarding Mr Overland and this album simply borders on useless hyperbole. Everything about Contagious is as expected. The songs are filled with melody, harmony, groove, catchy refrains, and glimmering guitar solos. Overall, they may be a tad heavier than his previous album, but that's just me. Also predictable, the musicianship and production is superb, thanks to the involvment of the quite talented Tommy Denander, Lars Chriss, and Tony Franklin (Blue Murder and Firm). Chriss handles the knobs and the music sparkles. Of course, Overland is in his element, the rich world of AOR melodic rock, and his usual fine form, being smooth, melodic, and soulful.
The only dilemma in all this is, since many songs rock a bit harder with sharper riffs and a deeper bottom end, Overland's voice often struggles to rise above the music. Perhaps this has more do with the mixing and mastering. (Or maybe Chriss isn't a vocalist's producer.) Just speculation. Examples include Intoxicated, Pocketful Of Dreams, and the racing and heavy Unforgiving World and Back Where I Belong. Alternatively, he's heard better on the more subtle Define Our Love and Wildest Dreams, but also the groove monster Making Miracles, where Overland is at his most soulful. It's one my favorite songs.
Despite those minor reservations, everything about Steve Overland's Contagious screams fundamental AOR melodic hard rock. If you're a fan of Overland or the genre, you'll be quite pleased and entertained by this album. Recommended.
Everything about Steve Overland's Contagious is fundamental AOR melodic hard rock. If you're a fan of Overland or the genre, you'll quite pleased and entertained by this album. Recommended.
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