Back in 1986, four local club musicians from Jersey formed the band NORWAY and released their debut album “Night Dreams.” The album was critically acclaimed worldwide but then, like so many other bands of the time, the band just disappeared but NOT never to be heard from again. NORWAY reformed once again in 2000 to release “Arrival.” Again, another stellar release, which compounded even MORE raves than “Night Dreams.”
Now it’s 2006… well, almost 2007 and NORWAY has returned once again with their latest effort “Rising Up From The Ashes.” This time around, newcomer Dave Baldwin takes over the lead vocal duties and joins original members Joe Slattery on bass, Marty Brasington on drums and stellar melodic guitarist Jim Santos for yet another great release. Staying true to their roots, “Rising Up From The Ashes” is filled with classy melodies, melodic harmonies and everything else you would expect from a solid AOR rock band with influences ranging from JOURNEY to NIGHT RANGER to SCORPIONS to BON JOVI! (Well what did you expect??? They are from Jersey after all!!!)
The album starts off strong with the upbeat rocker “Save Me.” This is a great track as the smooth melody builds into a powerful, intense chorus almost worthy of being an AOR classic! This is followed up by another well-balanced rocker titled “Anything At All” (which features a very impressive guitar intro, soothing melody and dynamic chorus) and the acoustic driven, power ballad “Only One I Need.” Twenty years ago, with its JOURNEY -ish undertones, this song would be blasting out of radio stations all over the country! But alas… it’s 2006/07 and American radio BEEE---LOOOWWWS!
Now for my little “bitch session.” Up next is a track called “American Girl.” Now I have this little “pet-peeve” about ANY song with the word “girl” in it. It’s all been done before… “American Girls,” “Summertime Girls, “”Girls Girls Girls, “ I could go on and on. They just seem to be all the same, have the same “general” message and usually have a lyrical content equivalent to that of any horny 15-year-old boy… and this one’s no different. Is it a BAD song? No… it has a nice melody and such but if you’re looking for any kind of substantial lyrical content… look elsewhere. “American Girl” (to me anyway) is the weakest track on the release and, I guess, kind of a disappointment on an album that’s otherwise full and fat with musical treasures.
“The Power Of Gold” kicks “Rising Up From The Ashes” back into gear with its haunting keyboards and soulful guitar work but REALLY gets back into it with the potent 80’s sounding anthem “Since You’ve Been Gone.” This is probably my favorite track on the CD. A catchy verse leads the way to a strong, harmonic chorus, bridge and flavorful guitar solo.
“Tell Me,” continues on in this vein as well… almost sounding something like a cross between THE OUTFIELD and some DOKKEN -ish guitar work. The guitar solo on this track is my favorite on the release as well… very tasty and very well executed by Santos.
The soft, creative and (again) acoustic driven ballad “Won’t Let You Down” will tug at your heart strings as Baldwin provides one of his best vocal performances on the CD and finally wrapping the whole thing up is the seven and a half minute epic “Haunted.”… A fitting ending to an album that does NOT disappoint.
Overall, this is a great AOR release. Other than my little “rant,” I can’t complain. “Rising Up From The Ashes” is another great release from an awesome band and Baldwin is a fitting replacement to the fine vocal talents of original lead singer Glen Pierson. This is a MUST have for any AOR / melodic rock fan. Trust me, NORWAY is a much-welcomed addition to anyone’s collection. I just wish it didn’t take so long between album releases… who do these guys think they are? BOSTON???
- David Baldwin – Lead Vocals, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
- Jim Santos – Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals
- Joe Slattery – Bass, Vocals
- Marty Brasington – Drums, Percussion
- Save Me
- Anything At All
- Only One I Need
- American Girl
- The Power Of Gold
- Since You’ve Been Gone
- Tell Me
- Won’t Let You Down