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FM – Old Habits Die Hard

(Frontiers Music – 2024)

(Style: Melodic Rock / AOR)

Before starting the review of ‘OLD HABITS DIE HARD’ I have to mention the passing of Chris Overland… The albums that he recorded with brother Steve are the yardstick that all FM albums are measured against. ‘Indiscreet’ & ‘Tough It Out’ are without doubt two of the greatest albums released ever.

'Old Habits Die Hard' has more than a nod back to this period, the songs have an 80’s sheen and production. Mr Steve Overland seems to have adopted a slightly different tone to his vocals that remain as pure and perfect as ever. 'Old Habits...' opener seems to steal from a bit of Tears For Fears for the intro and you can’t get much more 80’s than that. From ‘Out Of The Blue’, the album proves to be a journey of superb musicianship, I think it is the most accomplished for many, many years.

Before I get into the nitty gritty of the individual songs, I have to mention the band. They are all on fine form, Jim Kirkpatrick delivers his finest work ever, he deals out some excellent unrestrained solos which paint many pictures. Merv Goldworthy plays some funky music on his bass and sounds like he his having the time of his life.

Pete Jupp hits us with some raunchy rhythms as he drives the band forward from the backseat. As for the now cancer free Jem Davies, well he sprinkles and splashes his signature keyboards with abundance like never before. He also brought two songs to the album in the shape of opener ‘Out Of The Blue’ and album closer ‘Blue Sky Mind’ which deals with his encounter and recovery from cancer.

The loss of Chris came as a shock and obviously hit the band hard, especially Steve as it came so unexpectedly. If that wasn’t hard enough Bernie Marsden died just two days later! Jim is a close friend and collaborator, But Bernie was a friend of all the band. Cancer and deaths combined plagued the recording of the album, causing delays. But together they have set aside their collective grief and delivered an album of depth, which features songs which will be part of the setlist for years to come.

In saying that what do they drop? easy, none, just play for 2 hours a night! ‘Leap Of Faith’ sees the voice of Rock purring on this radio friendly song.

If ‘Out Of The Blue’ sets the tone (could have come from Indiscreet or the Tough It Out sessions) then ‘Don’t Need Another Heartache’ gives us all the choruses and melodies we have come to expect, the song builds and develops punctuated with great guitar solos and that voice.

‘No Easy Way Out’ immediately take me back to that glorious duo of albums, where it all began, with sweeping hooks and feel, it is built on a familiar rhythm that bubbles underneath. Well, it’s FM what else do you expect.

May I say if you have not tuned into FM before then it is time you did. This is their fourteenth studio album and unless you have the excuse of recently being born, then you have been missing out on the greatest exponents of Melodic / AOR rock this country have ever produced. Oh, by the way this album also celebrates 40 years of the band! FM always provide the vibe that makes you feel good inside. Call it an ‘Aphrodisiac’ if you like.

‘Lost’ Is next with its funky opening which cedes into those smooth vocals then returns to the groove for the chorus and beyond. The more I listen the better it gets ‘California’ gets stuck in your head with its Summery Blues and you just can’t stop joining in! ‘Black Water’ Is a deeper, darker cut which really showcases just how fantastic this band are.

The album sleeve is superb and possibly illustrates that FM won’t be quitting anytime soon. Either that or it’s the excitement they generate when they reconvene and begin a new album, ‘Old Habits’ indeed. When they can produce music like this they must continue for as long as they can, I make no bones about that. I mention producing, well once again it is self-produced and a fine job they have done, clean, clear, crisp and sharp that incorporate modern techniques and technology.

Album of the year? Quite possibly!

By Paul Mace

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