Chris Bay – Chasing the Sun (SPV)Sunday, 18th February 2018
Best known in metal circles for his happy, power efforts fronting Freedom Call, vocalist/guitarist Chris Bay feels the time is ripe to release a solo album in Chasing the Sun. Assembling ideas over the years that didn’t necessarily fit the FC mold, these eleven songs reach into alternative, AOR, and 80’s pastures – Chris handling all the instrumentation and vocals with an outside drummer assist from Freedom Call cohort Ramy Ali. And outside of Chris’ natural vocal register and penchant for multi-tracking choir harmonies in the choruses, this could be a tough sell to a metal crowd as the hooks, melodies, and structures are very basic and more rock and roll than anything heavy or speedy.
The keyboard to guitar ratio weighs mightily on the ivory side of things, with certain songs like “Flying Hearts” and “Where Waters Flow in Heaven” developing significant hooks from that end. At other times Chris decides to spread his musical horizons, be it more folk-oriented for “Light My Fire” that contains bagpipe-like textures or older, psychedelic Beatles influences for “Hollywood Dancer”. His love of the 80’s electronic, new-wave movement a la Inxs or U2 throws “Misty Rain” into the spotlight, a mid-tempo effort that features a circular guitar motif and alluring vocal melodies, the background vocals larger than life. It’s not surprising that the orchestral and cinematic flourishes pepper the closing ballad “Love Will Never Die” – Chris giving his all through an emotionally driven vocal and supplementing the proceedings with thoughtful guitar lines and a bevy of keyboard underpinnings. The simpler, stark cover of his body against a yellow background alerts the listeners that this is a non-metal effort through and through.
As a respectful diversion, Chasing the Sun will have its share of listeners solely based on the previous proven discography from Chris. Yet as an overall package, it’s a little too hokey and prone to that bombast that veers into the Velveeta cheesy side of things to be taken seriously. Who knows – it could lead to the strongest Freedom Call record down the pike…