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No Place In Heaven

Lynchburg (2014)
Rating: 7/10

Alan Kelly is an extremely talented multi-instrumentalist and former drummer of British rockers Shy, who were responsible for excellent melodic compositions such as 1987’s Excess All Areas.

In 7HY (or Alan Kelly’s Seven Hard Years, to give the project its full name), Kelly is joined by his former Shy bandmate, bassist Roy Davis, who is one of several guest musicians to appear on this 12-track debut recording. Martin Walls (ex-After Hours) and Claire Kelly (Alan’s wife) also offer bass contributions, while lead guitar comes courtesy of Dave Martin (ex-Marshall Law) and Alan’s son Elliot Sora Kelly (Ocean City). American vocalist Shawn Pelata (Line Of Fire) fronts the project.

The result of this coming together of musos and of course the talents of Alan Kelly is one that is surprisingly simplistic and yet one dominated by the presence of Pelata. Although there are some nice progressive touches, No Place In Heaven opts for a more commercial approach and this is no bad thing when the songs are this good.

Like all classy melodic rock albums there is always room for a sentimental ballad or two, the most notable of these being the dreamy yet reflective piano-lead ‘Never Meant To Hurt You’ and the sublime strains of ‘Live Without You’.

Admittedly there are times when the album drifts into cheesier, chart-orientated waters – ‘You Are The One’ dabbles with a hint of electronic, as does ‘Show Some Emotion’ – but while this opus is certainly not at the forefront of contemporary AOR projects, when the record does decide to rock there are some extremely catchy numbers.

My favourite has to be ‘You Lie’ with its classy solo, but one cannot deny the joys of the slushy ‘Hold Me Now’ which pretty much sums this album up. While delivered in a very pleasant fashion there is a general lack of bite all round, but this is clearly the softness 7HY were aiming for. The ballads are rather routine, the rockier numbers are padded out with marshmallows, and everything about this platter suggests a combo quite happy to plant themselves in the middle of the road and rarely drift out of that comfort zone.

If you like AOR that’s non-adventurous and as safe as houses then you’ll probably enjoy this charming little record that goes by the book.

Neil Arnold

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