CD Reviews

Salute - 'Toy Soldier' Hot

Added by James Gaden     February 17, 2010    
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Classy AOR from a trio of Swedish rockers.


The album cover with its kid in a pilot’s uniform reminds you of a mix of Survivor’s debut, Nightranger’s ‘Seven Wishes’ and Bad Company’s ‘Here Comes Trouble’. While musically it’s not particularly similar to those artists it is alike in that it’s a classy slice of AOR.

Salute (a bonafide AOR name if ever there was one) are effectively a three piece made up of some of Sweden’s best rockers. Mikael Erlandsson you’ll recognise as the singer of Last Autumns Dream and his pipes are well suited to the brand of uplifting melodic rock on offer here. Martin Kronlund is guitarist and producer with Gypsy Rose and used to be in Dogface (a band I didn’t rate much more than their name). Drummer Imre Daun also joins him from Gypsy Rose. As seen in Gypsy Rose, Kronlund can pen a good rock tune and his strong rhythm guitar playing and melodic solos provide the rocking backbone to the record, but the real star is Erlandsson who sings his socks off throughout, wringing as much emotion as he can out of every line. He’s aided and abetted by big backing vocals that give the record its million dollar AOR sheen.

The choruses are of the type that sound likable on first listen but with repeated spins become lovable. Standout track ‘Dynamite’, with its fast tempo and infectious melody, takes you by the hands and spins you round and round until you’re dizzy. ‘Follow The Sun’ offers a change of pace on the record with it’s laidback Westcoast groove, and Erlandsson’s voice is measured and self-assured before a chorus kicks in that makes you want to emigrate to California immediately. ‘Running Away With You’ is another corking tune with a fab chorus redolent of Giant or Rainmaker. ‘Lost In A Dream’, ‘Steel Desire’, and ‘It’s My Time’ are all big production numbers with a large positive, “You can do anything.” vibe that inspires you in the way only this type of music (or a Rocky movie!) can. Even the ballad ‘Yesterday Always Been Gone’ manages to stay just the right side of the cheese counter.

With people constantly bemoaning the tragic state of the music industry I can’t believe that here in 2009 there are still so many terrific new AOR records coming out every month. With Salute the Escape label proves it can still be relied upon to unearth new classy AOR.

Duncan Jamieson


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