FIONA – Unbroken (2011)
Eighties melodic rock fans surely remember Fiona Flanagan.
The U.S. singer with Irish roots scored moderate hits as ‘Talk To Me’, ‘Hopelessly Love You’ and specially ‘Everything You Do (You’re Sexing Me)”, a duet with Kip Winger. She also appeared briefly as an actress and performing the soundtrack in ‘Hearts Of Fire’.
After 4 good albums the lady disappeared from the scene in 1992.
I am sure few fans of the genre expected that almost 20 years after her last recording, Fiona will return into the music business. At the age of 50, the now wife and mother from New Jersey has her powerful and slightly husky sexy voice intact.
With the production and arranger team of House Of Lord’s James Christian and the omnipresent Tommy Denander, Fiona is back with “Unbroken”.
Most of the songs (there’s two covers) were written by Fiona in collaboration with Christian, Denander and English writing team The Elements. Also one co-written with the respected Marc Tanner and another with ’80s song-writing icon Holly Knight.
So we have a great team and Fiona in full potential: Is it “Unbroken” a winner?
It’s a good melodic rock album, but also has its flaws.
Opening track “Loved Along The Way” is one of the best tracks of the album. Hearkening back to her earlier albums with a typical Tommy Denander touch (co-written with him), this song has an irresistible melody and a really good chorus.
But things start to dissolute for me with follower “Broken”, an insipid rocker with some modern elements and to my ears, poor production.
Same with “I’ve Released You”. This is one of the songs contributed by The Elements (who had written recently really good songs for Robin Beck and others). The style, the arrangements and the overall sound on this track does nothing for me.
Fortunately, “Shadows Of The Night” is one of the highest points in this album. On this Pat Benatar original we find Fiona doing justice to this good song (then and now), with passionate vocals.
Another really good one is the totally ’80s “Badge Of Love” (co-written with Holly Knight), where Fiona feels at home with its catchy rhythm and infectious chorus.
The lyrics on “Wild One” are a bit odd by a woman on her fifties, but it really doesn’t matters, as musically this is my favorite track here. Reminds you Fiona’s first albums where Winger musicians used to be her back-up band, solid riffs and deep bass line ornamented with nice keyboards. Good guitar work by Bobby Messano as well.
The ballad “This Heart” has a pure eighties vibe and style, and the duet with Robin Beck really works harmonically. But somehow, the song lacks the spark necessary to be a great one.
“Get Yer Kix” is a simple hard rocker with some kick, but nothing spectacular. I can’t believe this one was penned by the qualified AOR/Westcoast songwriter Marc Tanner.
“Salt On My Wings” is a heavier, darker rocker where the influence of James Christian is clear as this track has a House Of Lords trademark style.
The album ends in great form with a cover of Prophet’s “Everything You Are”, a fantastic mid-tempo ballad with a terrific refrain, a soaring chorus and a perfect guitar solo by Tommy Denander at the end.
Bridging the past with the present, Fiona is back with “Unbroken”.
There’s some really good ’80s flavored songs on this album, where the lady sounds much comfortable than on the ones more modern oriented.
The good thing is that Fiona’s vocals and attitude are still in top form, with power and sensuality. The not so good on some parts are the style/arrangements and the overall production, which lacks fire and emotion.
In my opinion, “Unbroken” has ups and downs, but definitely any melodic rock / AOR fan should give this album a proper listen and decide.
01 – Loved Along The Way
02 – Broken
03 – I’ve Released You
04 – Shadows Of The Night
05 – Badge Of Love
06 – Wild One
07 – This Heart
08 – Get Yer Kix
09 – Salt On My Wings
10 – I Love You But Shut Up
11 – Everything You Are
Fiona – Vocals
Tommy Denander – Guitars
Bobby Messano – Guitars
Dai Smith – Guitars / Programming
Paul Jones – Rhythm Guitar
James Christian – Bass, Backing Vocals
Jeff Batter – Keyboards
James Jamal – Drums
Robin Beck – Duet Vocals on 7, Backing Vocals
BUY IT !