CD Review: LaValle / Dear Sanity
Whenever I hear of a new project coming from the “Kivel Kamp” (as I like to refer to it) my instant expectation is to sense an old school style hard rock album with top notch talent combined with new school technology to equal something unique and memorable. Over the years I can tell you that bands such as AdrianGale, Tango Down, FarCry, GoodBye Thrill, Faith Circus, TNA, Smash Alley have always seemed to bring something to the table to satisfy my desire for melodic rrock at its finest. The newest addition to is LaValle with their debut record Dear Sanity.
LaValle, featuring Carsten Schulz (Evidence One), Paul Logue (Edens Curse), Ramy Ali (Evidence One), and guitarist Eddie LaValle, have as a unit hit the spot on that target of combining classic sounding 80’s rock with today’s current standards of harder, edgier lyrics. The disc consists mostly songs dealing with real life every day relationships and the ups and downs associated with them. What I liked most about Dear Sanity is that (for the most part) the chorus and harmonies on each track had me singing along within the first listen of each song and I DID NOT have to forge ahead hoping to find something to hold my attention.
“Fading Like The Sun” has that instant big guitar sound that doesn’t leave you wondering if the record is going to be filled with just a few choice leads here and there. Nope. You get everything Eddie has to offer right in track one with plenty of finger tapping and shred. Not on every track on this record but on this one Carsten Schultz sounds a lot like Jesse James Dupree. This song (to me) is Jackyl meets Dokken – reat opener.
“Scared to Love” slows down the pace but not by much. It’s got b huge harmonies and a very memorable chorus. This song reminds me very much of something off Danger Danger’s Screw It!. This one should be a huge winner in the live set. Nice keyboards in this one.
“Don’t Cry” (No, not a GNR cover) has maybe Carsten’s best vocal. He just seems to really nail the chorus so well he carries this track. Lots of keys in this one but they work well against Eddie’s guitar not overwhelming. It’s another track that will be a crowd favorite. A small criticism is that the ending chorus ran a bit too long, the held note at the end should have been about a minute or sooner. Again minor critique.
“One Day At A Time” “This is it! This is life, the one you get to go and have a ball.” Sorry that’s me picturing a young Valerie Bertinelli. We digress. This is not your typical power ballad but a mid tempo rocker that does talk about moving on with life while taking the time to enjoy it. More great harmonies and that easy to chant chorus. My favorite song on the record..yea it is.
“Cry of The Wolf” has some of Eddie’s best leads on Dear Sanity. It’s sort of Dio-ish in its lyrical content. The song was a bit too busy for me lyrically during the chorus and suffered a bit from a slower pace I wasn’t expecting. I hope live it picks up the pace a bit. Guitar wise it’s excellent.
“Lucky Ones” does not give us red leather pants and two crossed fingers for you Loverboy fans! But what you do get is another mid temp rocker with a catchy chorus and more great harmonies. I enjoyed how in the second verse the song builds and builds and leads right into the chorus again without a huge change in pace. Another tasty solo from Eddie. Would not change a thing this song works very well.
“Smoke in Mirrors” is by far the heaviest rocker on Dear Sanity. But it still remains very melodic in its approach. Carsten really digs in and hits some sick ranges not really found on the rest of the album. Nicely done.
“Break Your Heart” is the power ballad on the record and really flows smoothly from beginning to end. I can see an old school video with Carsten and some video vixen having a few scenes arguing, making up, the band performing in a club. Yeah, the days when MTV actually cared about music, bands. Rant for another day. Get your cell phones ready when this one gets played live..
“Rock Your World” picks the pace back up again and really wants to punch you in the face with Eddie’s vicious first lead only seconds into the song. Musically I enjoyed this track immensely. Again the pace could have been picked up a bit for my taste. It didn’t know if it wanted to be a mid tempo or fast and fell somewhere in between by my ears. Some sick leads from Eddie after the 2nd verse.
“Wait Too Long” is very close to being the best song of the album expect for one thing. “One Day At A Time” has just stuck with me since I first popped in the CD. Nice problem to have as the listener. This song just has some great vocals from Carsten and he sounds a lot like Joe Lynn Turner on this one and I think that’s why it’s a personal favorite of mine. Another power ballad and would might even be better performed on acoustic guitar live perhaps? Just an idea guys!
If you like 80’s style rock with a lot of polish, you will love LaValle and wish Dear Sanity had been in your collection for years. Enjoy it now and forget about how much horrible popular music resonates the airwaves, the malls and just hope your kids pick up a CD or two out of your own personal collection and who knows? Maybe they grab from your own area of Kivel Kamp classics and make Dear Sanity among their new favorite. I know it already has with me. Chicks with teddy bears how can you resist?