Fastball Music 2016
German axeman revisits his back roads to define his current position and map out the route ahead.
“Some guys just don’t get it, but they no longer breathe”: this line from “Changed” – which appears here in two versions stressing the importance of its message – may be Christian Tolle’s motto. Having released his first song in 1987, three decades later the guitarist is still going from strength to strength, and though staying the same wouldn’t take him so far, an occasional glance back can help measure the distance. That’s what “Now & Then” is all about, except for the PROJECT’s method of involving friends who, marking the host’s anniversary as a recording artist, help Tolle color new versions of pieces from his previous albums and add a few new numbers to Christian’s canon.
That’s why there’s no build-up to this bridge between the past and the present, Tolle taking the bull by the horns with “Dumped” as metallic riff cuts the silence to set the scene for mellower melodies and let the listener know Christian doesn’t really need stellar colleagues to deliver a flurry of blistering licks. Of course, Doug Aldrich, Michael Landau and Steve Lukather up the ante on the tracks they added solos to, what with the infectious, keyboards-spiked “Back To The Moon” where the players include Luke alongside John Parr, but it’s the more established team of the bandleader and his old partner in crime, singer John Cuijpers, that shines on such songs as the sharp “Enemy” and the heavy blues of “Magic Pudding” before AOR tropes get rooted in “Taking A Risk” and reveal C.T.P.’s romantic underbelly.
Yes, those pop hooks on the likes of “One Night Alone” somehow soften their blow, yet instrumental “87 99” that combines rock moves with fusion freedom is nigh on fantastic, and this might be the direction for Christian Tolle to consider as his future. He sure gets it, the need to change to keep on breathing.