Fireworks

Williams / Friestedt - 'Williams / Friestedt' Hot

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Written by Central Electronic Brain     June 27, 2011    
 
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Definitely a case of quality over quantity.

Whilst the names might not sound instantly familiar as a coupling, Peter Friestedt has put out two well received westcoast albums under the L.A. Project moniker, and the Williams in question is erstwhile mid-80's and current Toto vocalist Joseph Williams, son of the phenomenally successful soundtrack composer John Williams. Having met when Williams appeared on Friestedt's first L.A. Project record, it was obvious they had some kind of chemistry and had planned to work together for quite some time, this album being the end result.

'Williams/Friestedt' leans a little more towards AOR than the lighter material they'd worked on before, with bands like Toto, Mr Mister and Chicago being obvious comparisons. The Toto connection is undeniable in the funky 'Where To Touch You' and the smooth pop-rocker 'One More Night', with distinctive vocal harmonies and Steve Porcaro-like keyboard parps over irresistible drum patterns (courtesy of top sessioneer John 'JR' Robinson no less!) There are moments of sheer westcoast bliss, like 'Stay With Me' with its great pop melody and tasty guitar solo from the underrated Peter Friestedt, or the killer arrangements and catchy chorus of 'Say Goodbye' and the quirky pop/funk song 'Gotta Find It'. The two out and out ballads are both highlights with the closing 'Letter To God' just eclipsing the Chicago-like 'Sometimes You Win' (Chicago's Bill Champlin is another guest!) due to its lush harmonies and heartfelt lyrics, but both are wonderfully delivered by Williams, whose stellar performance on this album is making me look forward to the upcoming Toto show more than any in recent memory. Probably top of the heap here is the opening 'Swear Your Love', which has the melody, feel and all the relevant guitar and keyboard fills of classic Toto and is the best pure AOR song I've heard for quite some time.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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This is a very strong release of its kind with some great songs and performances, however, I have two small complaints. One is that the production isn't as full and warm as albums like this need to be, and on a small budget that's perhaps understandable. The other is that on an album that features the one Toto lead vocalist who can still cut it, there's a pleasant but utterly pointless piano-based instrumental, which would be fine if this was a fifteen track, seventy minute album, but it's a nine track, forty minute album that leaves you with eight medium length songs featuring Joseph Williams, who I guess is the main selling point. It's definitely a case of quality over quantity.

Phil Ashcroft

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