Backman Johanson And The Others (BJATO) – At Last +2 [Reissue including Bonus Tracks] (2019)
“At Last” is the fascinating debut album by Backman Johanson And The Others (BJATO), the Swedish project inspired by classic AOR sounds. Created by experienced musicians Mats Johanson (guitars, keys and programming) and Kaj Backman (keys and programming), the record features class musicians and vocalists such as Göran Edman, Johan Boding, Frank Ådahl, Tomi Malm and many more.
Many years in the making – hence the title “At Last” – the album is a delicious collection of melodic songs carefully arranged, performed and produced. Including two bonus tracks – one of them sung by Edman – the album was reissued 2019.
The motto here is Westcoast AOR, not so in the ‘smooth side’ of the genre but in its more dynamic spectrum. I would say ‘melodic rock Westcoast’.
Think CWF Champlin – Williams – Friestedt, Street Talk, some TOTO, Tomi Malm recent album featured here (who also play keyboards), Talk Of The Town, Radioactive, etc.
There’s not a weak moment here, all musicians involved – including some American like talented 6-string bass player Adam Nitti – are top notch, while the vocalist selection is terrific.
Of course there’s the incredible Göran Edman on various tracks and it’s great to hear the great Frank Ådahl recording again (his performance in ‘I Don’t Have the Heart’ is simply awesome) however also some unknown to me which are a real find.
Take as example Regin Guttesen in ‘I Guess You Already Know’; what a superb vocal tone and varied color, or Italian Maurizio Sorrone in the uptempo opener ‘Cut and Paste’.
We have a smooth female singer – Gabby Gordon – in the midtempo ‘Let You Know’ (cool guitar work here as well), and there’s also young blood here with Johan Boding of Sonic Station providing a strong performance in the atmospheric AOR of ‘Shadow’.
Coming out of nowhere, Backman Johanson And The Others / BJATO debut “At Last” is one of the surprises of the year. This is top not material, mixing classic AOR with that unique Swedish touch and some Westcoast, but of the uptempo kind.
As said, all songs are great, a pure delight to the ears.
01 – Cut and Paste (lead vocals Maurizio Sorrone)
02 – I Don’t Have the Heart (lead vocals Frank Ådahl)
03 – Let You Know (lead vocals Gabby Gordon)
04 – Me and You Day (lead vocals Isak Widmark)
05 – Upside Down (lead vocals Frank Ådahl)
06 – Cruel When You’re So Kind (lead vocals Göran Edman)
07 – I Guess You Already Know (lead vocals Regin Guttesen)
08 – This Kind of Love (lead vocals Robin Öhman)
09 – Shadow (lead vocals Johan Boding)
10 – Crossroad (lead vocals Göran Edman)
11 – What Will Be Will Be (lead vocals Göran Edman)
12 – Words Can’t Say
Mats Johanson – All guitars, keys and programming
Kaj Backman – keys and programming
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