A Rocktopia user review by Dairenn Lombard.
For the Genre: ***-- (3/5)
Compared to the Era: ****- (4/5)
Summary: Survivor meets American Idol.
This album took me days to warm up to because of some of the arrangements and Toby Hitchcock’s voice; you either love it, or you don’t. While there are hints of Bobby Kimball in his style, Toby is the vocal equivalent of Yngwie J. Malmsteen: technically proficient, but 100% intensity with only occasional subtly can be difficult. Fans of Dennis DeYoung could enjoy Hitchcock as he has that Broadway showtunes-style that is, at times operatic. However, though there are no problems with the pitch or technique in general, I personally couldn’t get behind it. A good example of this is the introduction to “Book of Life,” a great song, actually. Intense and energetic, and ultimately saved by Jim Peterik singing lead vocals during the verse. In fact, he brings his best to this album in every way.
Songs like “Faithful Heart” are classic Peterik; it feels like it came from a time that brought us the great American songwriters of the 70s and 80s like James Taylor and David Foster. More new tracks with that classic feel are like “Secret of the Way” and “Tall Ships,” which has a very, very strong 70s feel. But a song that has the frenetic pace of “Book of Life” is “Defying Gravity,” but only this time, you’ve got to take on Hitchcock’s audition for “Grease” through much of it. Nevertheless, your patience is rewarded by Peterik’s incredible ability to arrange songs. The same can be said for “Love’s Eternal Flame,” which has simply one of the most beautiful melodies on this album. Patience, however, is definitely one thing you will need. There is a lot to like about the last song, “Turnaround,” like the beautiful Tori Hitchcock’s lovely vocal contribution, and the intense introduction that commands your attention. But this one is over seven minutes long. Listen to this one when you are stuck in traffic or waiting for a bus or train.
Three decades ago, he wrote a remarkable song “A Thousand Smiles” on Survivor’s sophomore album “Premonition,” and I was reminded of that track off the title track, “The Roaring of Dreams.” Using attention-grabbing Staccato, you’re taken through stories describing the individual struggles of everyday people before entering the grand chorus where they can hear destiny calling out them, where greatness will be theirs. A truly powerful, positive and uplifting song if there ever was one, JP’s signature sound written all over it. “Language of the Heart,” however, is the song that got me to buy the CD in the first place and it remains my favorite after hearing the remaining tracks. Whether it was Ed Breckenfeld’s solid work on the drums with the half-time sections thrown in for good measure, Christian Cullen’s excellent keyboard work, Klem Hayes deep and steady bass line in the pocket, or Jim’s vocals keeping this one somewhere within the realm of being easy to listen to, it honestly spoke to me the way the lyrics say.
I had the opportunity to meet JP’s awesome band when they were in Studio City out performing with his protégé Lisa McClowry (currently promoting her latest record “Time Signatures” in the world of Smooth Jazz), and they are AWESOME. There were no studio tricks by engineer Larry Millas; Ed really IS that good behind the drumkit, and Klem has remarkable tone, without a doubt. Unless you’ve got to have the lyrics, I would just buy the album on digital download, if you decide to get the whole thing.
Dairenn Lombard (Rocktopia user name: starfire)