CHAMPLIN WILLIAMS FRIESTEDT – II (2020)
Simply titled “II“, this is the 2020 release from the AOR super-group CWF, consisting of renowned Toto singer Joseph Williams, Bill Champlin formerly of the legendary band Chicago, and critically acclaimed guitarist, producer and recording artist Peter Friestedt.
The second studio album from the AOR trio also includes contributions from legendary vocalist Michael McDonald, drummer John JR Robinson (Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones), Randy Goodrum (Toto, Chicago), Tamara Champlin, and hit-maker, Polar Prize 2020 winner Diane Warren among many others.
In short, this is a luscious album if you love smooth velvety AOR that occasionally dips a toe into the soothing warm West Coast waters to deliver a gentle mellow vibe.
‘Runaway Dancer’ that opens might be the feistiest slice of AOR here, it’s certainly got bite along with a silky smooth AOR finish. ’10 Miles’ that follows is a beautifully constructed song with lilting guitar soothing keys and a real feel of the classic TOTO AOR sound.
And on cue Michael McDonald adds his soulful vocal to ‘Love in the World’ – a golden low key duet full of soul and jazzy guitar and a chilled lounge groove.
After plenty of variety ‘Amanda’s Disguise’ is yet another change of perspective: it has a bit of fire, a little left field WC in the verses but the intertwined melodies of the chorus and the keys really make it.
There’s a touch of Chicago about ‘Between the Lines’, and the Dianne Warren penned ‘Look Away’ is as smooth and soothing as can be.
There’s a melodic rock version of ‘Price Of Love’ – recorded by Baton Rouge in the ’90s – very interesting as it features a lead vocal by Tamara Champlin who actually co-wrote the song.
And the rest is just as luxurious and ridiculously well constructed with ‘All That I Want’ showing progressive traits; and ‘Restless Love’ adding some amazing melodies.
That just leaves us with the closer ‘Sometimes You Win’ which is one of my favourite here – a beautiful swing infects the West Coast drive, and leaves you with the prefect ending to an album meant for those quiet moments.
Like CWF’s debut, “II” is just another great slice of classy, velvety AOR.
01. Runaway Dancer
02. 10 Miles
03. Love In The World (feat Michael McDonald)
04. Amandas Disguise
05. Between The Lines
06. Look Away
07. All That I Want
08. Restless Love
09. Price Of Love (feat Tamara Champlin)
10. Sometimes You Win
Joseph Williams – Lead & Background Vocals
Bill Champlin – Lead & Background Vocals, Keyboards, Guitar
Peter Friestedt – All lead Guitars, Rhythm & Acoustic Guitars