World Trade - Unify

(CD 2017, 49:40, Frontiers Records / Soulfood)

The tracks:
  1- The New Norm(4:30)
  2- Where We're Going(6:47)
  3- Pandora's Box(4:00)
  4- On Target On Time(4:11)
  5- Gone All The Way(5:18)
  6- Unify(5:35)
  7- For The Fallen(4:30)
  8- Life Force(4:30)
  9- Same Old Song(5:19)
10- Again(4:53)

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World Trade is a Los Angeles (US) based band fronted by bassist/vocalist Billy Sherwood (of Yes and Asia) This latest offering is the band's third album (World Trade in 1989 and Euphoria in 1995). Unify reunites the band line-up from the first album including Bruce Gowdy on guitar, Guy Allison on keyboards and Mark T. Williams on drums

The album opens with possibly the weakest track The New Norm, which lacks the fluidity and polish of the rest of the disc. Where We're Going gives a better indication of the direction of the album with lush production and layered vocals. Pandora's Box is a catchy pop hook backed with still prog-sounding instrumentation. On Target, On Time , Gone All The Way and the title track, Unify all would be right at home on any 80's era Yes album but in 2017 they do sound a little dated. For The Fallen is a little more progressive, with a great synthesizer and guitar break from Allison and Gowdy. Lifeforce actually starts off sounding like a note for note lift from Love Will Find A Way (from Big Generator by Yes) - while the bridge heads off into a promising direction, the song keeps coming back to the familiar riff. Oddly enough, with a title like Same Old Song, I was expecting this track to be “more of the same “, but in the end this is possibly the most original sounding track in the collection. The song weaves through a number of different moods and structures and really is the stand-out performance. The album concludes with Again, which like the previous track is quite original sounding and actually makes me wish the whole album had been built around these two tracks.

Over-all the album features some stand-out performances and is well produced but unfortunately sounds quite dated and to my ears more pop/AOR oriented than Progressive.

Throughout this album the influence of Chris Squire and John Wetton are in the forefront- think of Face On The Bridge meets Leave It. This is not necessarily a bad thing, though - if you are going to have influences, these are two of the best.

While hard-core prog fans will probably not find anything on this album to get really excited about, fans of Asia and 80's era Yes will really enjoy this album. Featuring a very clean production, catchy songwriting and the kind of performance that you expect from these L.A. studio veterans Unify is a solid package and possibly World Trade's best effort to date.

*** David Carswell

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