Grand Illusion - 'Prince Of Paupers'

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Grand Illusion - 'Prince Of Paupers'

Great musicianship and well crafted songs.

Sweden's Grand Illusion released four very good albums on the Escape label in quick succession at the turn of the Millennium. They then went on a five year hiatus before releasing last year's excellent ‘Brand New World’ which they aired at last year's Firefest. A year later they return with their sixth release. Main man Anders Rydholm writes the music and produces the album as well as playing bass, keyboards and guitar and he is joined by regular vocalists Per Svensson and Peter Sundell. Sticking to 2010's successful formula they returned to Los Angeles and have definitely come up with another cracker.

Gregg Bissonnette once again pounds the drums and they have a number of special guests including Tim Pierce, Steve Lukather and Jay Graydon adding their considerable skills to this AOR / pomp album. ‘Gates of Fire’ sets things rolling and has a heavier than normal riff than you would expect from these guys but is full of memorable hooks and a great solo. ‘On and On’ is another catchy rocker. ‘St Teresa's Love’ features an infectious chorus, with great performance from Svensson / Sundell and after a few plays it's difficult to get ‘Better Believe It’ out of your head. Title track ‘Prince of Paupers’ has another heavier riff but Rydholm's keyboards and arrangements make it sound naturally melodic. ‘So Far Away’ is a slower number but has a stunning lengthy solo, I only have a promo but it sounds like ‘Luke’ bending those strings and features another catchy chorus.

In fact as you would expect all 12 tracks are full of great musicianship and well crafted songs and overall the production is excellent. Special mention must go to Svensson and Sundell for their soaring harmonies and massive choruses, at times they outdo Rob Halford and Tony Harnell hitting those high notes and certainly add something special. There's nothing groundbreaking here but all the musicians play out of their skins and if you like Grand Illusion's previous albums then you will love this CD.

If you don't own any of their earlier albums, then this is a very good place to start and it would be great to see them at next year's Firefest playing a bunch of these wonderful songs.

Az Choudhury

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