You will be hard pressed to find a much better Melodic Hard Rock album than this one.
It’s remarkable that this album ever saw the light of day as Dennis ‘Fergie’ Frederiksen (ex Toto/Trillion/Le Roux/Mecca) was diagnosed with inoperable liver cancer in June of last year and for most people that would have been that. However, Fergie decided to seek alternative cures and this very Summer announced positive results. He continued to work on his solo album throughout this time and what has now emerged is simply sensational! This is a truly striking album with fabulous songs that have been placed all over it like brightly coloured lights on a Christmas tree!
Opener ‘Angel (Mirror To Your Soul)’ just has this incredible uplifting feel to it with energetic pacing, smooth melodies and a gorgeous honey-coated chorus. The moment it finished it had me reaching for the replay button! ‘Elaine’ follows and what you get from Fergie is an amazing passionate vocal performance atop a mid tempo rock beat with keys aplenty singing about trying to win back a former lover. ‘First To Cry’ has a keyboard led precursor to a glorious chorus with a lovely guitar tone throughout the whole song reminiscent of Signal with Mark Free and then you get ‘Follow Your Heart’, a simply gorgeous Steve Perry era Journey-esque epic ballad. Quite stunning!
This opening quartet will already have you reaching for the payment options on Frontiers’ website even with eight songs still to pass through your ears. The title track ‘Happiness Is The Road’ is a co-write with Jim Peterik and has a very typical Survivor positive uplifting vibe to it whilsts ‘Writing On The Wall’ is a fast paced number with interesting Magnum style keys and a nice tone on the guitar supplied by one Nathan Eshman. ‘The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be’ is a positive ballad of sorts with strong sentiments on a driving beat and again swathed in plenty of keys. Acclaimed keyboard player Eric Ragno (Takara/Vox Tempus/China Blue/Ted Poley/Danny Vaughan/Tony Mills etc) I believe plays the majority of these parts but a certain Mr Dennis Ward is credited with bass plus guitars, keys and background vocals. My guess is during the production process, Ward would have added additional parts where necessary. The production, incidentally, is first rate, but then when has Dennis Ward ever delivered a poor production? He has to be up there amongst the premier class of producers for sure. Dik Bruinenberg is listed as drummer and as I’m. unfamiliar with this guy, I would hazard a guess he’s a German guy that Dennis knows and has been brought in on recommendation.
If I was pressed on standout songs on this album, then it would be a little bit like trying to choose a favourite between your children. The aforementioned song ‘Angel (Mirror To Your Soul’) and ballad ‘Follow Your Heart’ are up there as is 'Love Waits For No One’, a classy mature sounding ode to a lost love, a recurring theme throughout the album. And I would also have to include ‘The One’ which features a nice keyboard refrain, a glorious chorus with multi-layered backing vocals and a fabulous outro guitar solo.
You will be hard pressed to find a much better Melodic Hard Rock album than this one. Toby Hitchcock’s solo offering is running right up with this one but nevertheless, this is a truly mesmerising release from a man who’s been at the top of his profession for many years. As the saying goes: form may be temporary, but class is permanent!