ROBIN BECK – Underneath (2013)
ROBIN BECK is releasing today his brand new album “Underneath”. Ever since Robin returned to the AOR / Melodic Rock style of her breakthrough album Trouble Or Nothing, she’s been one of the most reliable artists of the genre.
I thought her previous album The Great Escape was another career highlight and I glad to report that “Underneath” is once again a stupendous album from the reigning AOR Queen.
As happens lately, this album can also be considered somewhat of a family affair. Her husband, James Christian, is producing, play several instruments and duets with her on “Burnin’ Me Down”. Her daughter, Liv Beck, also contributes with some backing vocals.
But what really benefits this material is the addition of external songwriters such as Tommy Denander, Glen Burtnik, Barry Jay and Fiona Flanagan to give her music a bit of a new, contemporary edge. Despite the new influences “Underneath” is still very much a Robin Beck album, but the new writers do add some new flavours to it.
“Wrecking Ball” gives the CD a crushing start, showcasing the slightly modernized style yet boasting a big, rocking chorus. It’s followed by something more familiar sounding, Robin’s cover of “Ain’t That Just Like Love”, a track originally recorded by Fiona in 1992. This big, hook-laden rocker has always been one of my favourite Fiona songs and Robin’s version is very good too.
“Catfight” and “Check Your Attitude” are two of the more contemporary tracks, approaching Robin to a potential radio-rock chart. The latter is rather good but I can’t say I’m too fond of “Catfight”, it just doesn’t have enough meat around its bones.
But thumbs up for Robin, she sounds convincing singing these tunes. There is a unique ‘somethin´” with her voice that doesn’t sound like every other angry female-fronted band on the radio.
photo by Edwin van Hoof
The album’s title track is something really special, a massive ballad with fine lyrics and a great vocal arrangement from Robin. It’s penned by songwriters Annica Williams & Måns Ek and lyricist Charlie Mason, who has co-written most of the album actually. I wouldn’t be surprised if it found its’ way to the mainstream charts eventually – some major label artist will surely want to record it sooner or later.
The rest of the album is more in the vein of old-school Robin Beck, melodic (hard) rock with big hooks. Many of the tracks have a call-to-action type of feel, so they evoke oomph immediately. “Sprain” is a great example of an action-bringing song.
James Christian shares the lead vocals on the power ballad “Burnin’ Me Down”, while Christian’s House Of Lords bandmate, guitarist Jimi Bell gets a co-writing credit for the energetic rocker “Perfect Storm”.
“Ya Can’t Fight Love” is Tommy Denander’s sole songwriting contribution to this album and a very good one it is too, a lively uptempo track with a great hook, and he slashes a melodic solo.
“I Swear The Nights” is another fine power ballad, soulful and sultry, but it keeps the rock factor easily. The Glen Burtnik-cover “Follow You” closes the CD like it closed Robin’s Firefest set last year, a good Rock&Pop song that suits the album’s mood nicely.
Robin Beck easily retains the throne of Melodic Rock Queen with “Underneath”, simply because she’s the best in this game. Her voice is intact, and her continuous growth and ambition has shone through with this album. Each song packs a punch of good vocal range and music that follows the lead.
Bringing external contributors to the fore was a clever decision on Beck’s part. The arrangements, the vocals and the lyrics work so well with each other in a really welcomed refreshing way to avoid repeat herself.
When we talk about Female Melodic Rock / AOR nowadays Robin Beck still is the #1, and “Underneath” proves it, an album that does the genre proud.
01. Wrecking Ball
02. Aint That Just Like Love
06. Check Your Attitude
07. Burnin Me Down
08. Perfect Storm
09. Ya Can’t Figth Love
10. I Swear The Nights
11. Follow You
Robin Beck – Lead Vocals
James Christian – Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Jimi Bell – Guitar
Glen Burtnik – Guitar
Tommy Denander – Guitar
Jeff Batter – Keyboards
BJ Zampa – Drums
Fiona Flanagan – Backing Vocals
Liv Beck – Backing Vocals
BUY IT !