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Cannonballz - '8Ballz2Many' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/99/25/37/cannonballz-8ballz2many-35-1565357318.jpg

Added by Central Electronic Brain     August 07, 2019    
 
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Proffering a mix of pure AOR, Midwest Pop and svelte West Coast with a dash of southern-fried Blues, '8Ballz2Many' is refreshingly diverse.

I took one look at the band name and the album title, and thought to myself, "Hmm... slap on the eyeliner and break out the hairspray because this is gonna be trashy Glam/Sleaze overload baby!"... but then I saw the label imprint.

Suitably intrigued, I took a peek at the names involved with Cannonballz, and when a picture of a shared history with such illustrious names as Marillion, GTR, Living Colour and Blanc Faces (amongst others) began to emerge, mild trepidation soon turned into something much more tangibly palatable.

A band project put together by respected session guitarist Alan Friedman (The Accounting Crows), the group's line-up is completed by vocalist Robbie LaBlanc, bassist Doug Wimbush, keyboard maestro Vince DiCola (best known for his work on the 'Rocky IV', 'Staying Alive' and 'Transformers – The Movie' soundtracks) and journeyman drummer Jonathan Mover. This is a superb set of players by anyone's standards I'm sure you'll agree, but whilst the musicianship is above reproach throughout, for me it's LaBlanc's soulful, bluesy vocal roar that really sets this record alight.

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Proffering a mix of pure AOR, Midwest Pop and svelte West Coast with a dash of southern-fried Blues, '8Ballz2Many' is refreshingly diverse. Its erudite blend of various styles is both tantalisingly different yet instantly familiar. Take the offbeat Jazz sound of 'Sammy On The Wall' for example; its loose feel and superb musical interplay (I love the bass and keyboards) could almost have come out of the Mk.IV Deep Purple stable. 'I'll Take The Pain' has a late-night soulful vibe that is crying out for radio airplay. Opener 'Sari' is a real Toto/Journey hybrid, whilst 'When I Think Of You' is a superb slice of hook-laden Pop Rock which brings to mind the likes of Butch Walker.

The pick of the litter for me (and it wasn't an easy choice) is the low-slung 'Heart Without A Soul', a slow-burning masterpiece that wouldn't sound out of place in a King King set. Obviously, Alan Nimmo's mob are one of my "go-to" defaults at the moment, but what really sold this was the stunning LaBlanc vocal; that and some wonderfully soulful guitar from Friedman.

Put together on a less-is-more basis, the songs have the freedom to grow and breathe organically, and as such just get better and better with each play; it also features sonically superb production values too! I take my hat off to Andrew McNeice for unearthing this eclectic gem!

Dave Cockett

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