During last year's live concerts at W2 and 't Blok (see review) Franck Carducci and his fantastic live band gave his fans a sneak preview of the songs which are going to be on his third studio album. At the time I didn't know the album title. But now one year later I have the answer to that question: The Answer! And as always, I am very curious what Franck and his guest musicians have come up with music wise!
I always find it rather difficult to tell in a few words what you can find on a brand new album.But I will try anyway! You'll have to know that the original album is only 47 minutes long. Because the album contains two bonus tracks and two radio- edits. Let's go through the extra songs first before telling a bit about the other compositions.
First we have the song which was used for the name of the tour and which gave them recognition in the UK. It was also done during that tour. On The Road To Nowhere is a short acoustic acapella song and a kind of tribute to the days of the legendary Woodstock festival back in the late sixties. Next up is another kind of acoustic piece of music. Beautiful Night is a beautiful ballad with a fine synthesizer part at the start and ending of the song. Finally we have the two radio-cuts. (Love Is) The Answer is half as long as the opening piece of the album and therefore very suitable to play on radio stations which have a more commercial sounding approach. But still a good progressive rock tune even if it doesn't have most of the strong instrumental parts. The second one, Slave To Rock 'n' Roll, was used during the earlier mentioned tour for the opening act of the bands live performances. It is most of all a straight rock 'n' roll anthem and a kind of tribute to one of Frank's musical heroes. Namely Alice Cooper.
As on all of Carducci's solo albums you can find on this new album progressive rock songs next to more rock 'n' roll pieces of music and blues orientated tracks. Therefore it is for a reviewer easy to define what you can expect on a new release.
The main course being the many great progressive rock songs that you can consume. The opening tune is a good example of it. The long version of (Love Is) The Answer has strong instrumental parts done by the keyboards (Olivier Castan) and electric guitar (Franck Carducci). But also the harmony vocals (Mary Reynaud, Sandra Reina, Steve Marsala, Amelynn Vecchi) are a real feast for your ears to hear. Superstar is the next real progressive rock anthem. The story about Arion, the real superstar. The music of Genesis can be heard here a lot thanks to the amazing keyboard parts of Castan and Franck himself. Mary delivers some strong lead vocals as well. With the electric guitars also having a leading role. Franck's two live guitar players Christophe Obadia and Steve Marsala shine all the way. The same goes for The After Effect. Again a strong progressive rock tune with fine instrumental parts. Many already enjoyed as live versions performed earlier during the tour. Therefore it isn't strange at all that it is performed with the whole live band. Reynaud's wordless vocal parts opening this song very strongly.
The more rock 'n' roll piece of music is the already earlier mentioned Slave To Rock 'n' Roll, which was also earlier released as a single. The long version has a nice instrumental break.
The final two songs not mentioned are The Game Of Life and Asylum. The first one has a concise and relaxing theme that defends a high quality soul and blues. Carducci's bass playing and singing is accompanied by Richard Vecchi on the piano and on the trumpet played by Thierry Seneau. Asylum is probably the most blues orientated piece of the entire album, although after a couple of minutes it moves towards a different style. Briefly developed is a progressive rock sound heard thanks to the wonderful Mellotron and organ parts done by ex Dream Theater keyboard player Derek Sherinian. Even Supertramp (Rudy) comes around the corner thanks to the slide guitar parts, which are probably done by Franck himself. Also drummer Jimmy Pallagrosi (Zio, Hayley Griffiths Band, ex-Karnataka) gets a short solo spot.
Finally I have to tell you that the mastering took place at Real World Studios (England) and the mixing was done by Chris Morphin and Franck himself. Which resulted in a well balanced overall good sound. Oh yeah and the face on the album cover is not the bands female vocalist Mary Reynaud but the beautiful model Charlotte Giraud-Grosso
Thumbs up for Mr. Carducci for again coming up with an excellent studio album after his two earlier albums ODDITY (2011, see review) and Torn Apart (2015, see review). The Answer is a varied and passionate prog album on which you can hear a good mix of melodic rock, blues, 70s rock and a portion of solid rock. What else do you want? Therefore a highly recommended album and already one of the musical highlights of 2019 without any doubt!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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