Love to the world: seasoned players uncover their soft tissue and set off on romantic cruise.
It may seem unusual to begin an album with a ballad – no matter how full of expectancy the acoustic caress of “What The Rain’s For” can be – but nothing would prepare the listener, especially one seeing the names of hard-rock shakers and blues movers on this record’s cover, for a whole slow ride. Still, a string of love songs, “Joy” is as varied as the feeling such a title implies, so once the surprise has abated, many nuances come to the fore.
Some of the tracks are playful: “Paradise” has fusion running through the sunny tune, and the Steve Augeri-voiced AOR pearl “Be Brave For Love” will reveal a country undercurrent. Yet the serious numbers that are driven by Patrick Klein – like the celestially serene “Heaven Must Have Told You” – sound much more sincere with their ’70s-evoking sensibilities. The faster and the heavier the drift gets, the paler the piece looks, guitar riffs and organ roll derailing the intent of “The Keepin’ Kind” and grounding the flight of memory in “When We Were Young” – even though the contrast they serve up is rather nice.
Other cuts are typical for the chosen genre, with spirituality the saving grace for “Tears Of Joy” and the infectious “Teetering” worth the price of admission alone, so Mike Markowitz, who supplied most of the music, and Randy Pratt, who wrote most of vocal melodies and lyrics, did a nice job. Whether the all-ballad approach is sustainable remains to be seen.