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Hartmann: Hands On The Wheel
Hartmann - Hands On The Wheel Music Review

Hartmann: Hands On The Wheel

Melodic Hard Rock/AOR
4.0/5.0

Expect the unexpected. This is not the Oliver Hartmann of the last two albums. Hands On The Wheel, his seventh album, finds Hartmann in a different, yet familiar musical space. While the last to albums were mild AOR melodic rock, this one finds Hartmann kicking out the jams with harder melodic rock.

Hartmann Band Photo

Hartmann: Oliver Hartmann, second from left

But I was expecting the former style, and with the opening song Don't Want Back Down, which has a lighter start, I thought I was getting it. But at two minutes in, the song erupts into a strong and darn right catchy melodic hard rocker. Whoa. Change can be good. Next, Your Best Escapes pumps up the pace, offers sharp riffs, and grooves along. Cold As Stone turns on stronger rock, yet with a fine melody and sweet vocal harmony.

Later The Harder They Come has nearly a heavy metal feeling with more brisk riffage and big booming drums. Yet, about the two-third mark, a milder guitar breakdown arrives wrapped in symphonic synths. Near the end, there's Lost In Translation and The Sky Is Falling, both sort of slow and lumbering numbers, which didn't really connect with me. An acoustic ballad arrives with Soulmates, mostly Hartmann's voice joined to acoustic guitar. Yet, later in the tune, the song rises to a stirring guitar solo. But the killer track here is Simple Man, which features Mr. Big's Eric Martin. The song turns upon a Celtic theme in the guitars, violin, and lute for a sweet texture, while still rocking out. You just might want to buy the album for this song. It's that good.

Needless to say, with Hands On The Wheel, Oliver Hartmann has thrown us a musical curve ball with his move towards more AOR melodic hard rock. But it's also not something he's unfamiliar with considering his musical history. The album rocks. Get it. Recommended.



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The Bottom Line

With Hands On The Wheel, Oliver Hartmann has thrown us a musical curve ball with his move towards more AOR melodic hard rock. But it's also not something he's unfamiliar with considering his musical history. The album rocks. Get it. Recommended.

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