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Ghost Dancer Music (2014)
Rating: 5.5/10

Elevation is the debut release from London-based Skyscraper, who feature the talents of vocalist Lee Small (Shy), guitarist Tor Talle (Overland, Fergie Frederiksen, Northern Light, Joe Lynn Turner) and bassist Dave Boyce (Quireboys, Airrace).

The album also features guest musicians Imre Duan (drums; Salute) and Bruce Gaitsch (acoustic guitar); the latter has previously worked with the likes of Madonna, Richard Marx and Chicago.

While there seems to be piles upon piles of melodic rock acts emerging from the cracks nowadays, I do like my rock a tad different – this one is just a bit dull at times. While always nifty on its feet, I’m not comfortable with Small’s vocal style. Sure, it’s simple, powerful and effective, but there’s just an air of the bland about it – and the whole album, for that matter. Try as hard as I might, I just cannot put up with Elevation for long periods; left in the cold by the likes of ‘Sail Away’ and ‘Monday Morning’, which are feel-good wintry tunes but ones which just do not warm the cockles.

While this sort of rock rarely sounds dated, there’s an air of the predictable about the simmering ‘Fay Wray’; Small actually shines but is let down by the formulaic outcome, which leads me to predict where every beat or whining solo is going to drop in. The album does have its good moments, though; notably the ballad ‘Everybody Cries Sometimes’, although it’s very much a case of slushy pop-rock if you ask me.

I also enjoyed the slow building atmosphere of ‘Sweet Little Sister’ and the closing bonus track ‘Where Love Is Waiting’ with its funky guitar strut, but I refuse to agree with the optimism of other reviewers who state that this album should be put alongside some of the greats of the past. In my opinion, Elevation is a half-baked and all too generic pop-rock album, and one which falls short in so many departments.

Maybe I’m being too critical, but as contemporary modern rock goes Elevation is just too darn plain to win me over; however hard I try to find a handful of positives, for very good track there seems to be a trio of average ones. The negatives don’t make this a bad album, though; it’s just that Skyscraper has recorded a rather tepid one.

Neil Arnold

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