Released by: Fuel The Jet Records
Release Date: Out Now!!!
Genre: Hard Rock
Jason Bonnell (bass)
Paul Laine (lead vocals/guitar)
Steve Ohe (guitar)
John Stoltz (drums)
01. You Were The One I Waited For
02. Better Days
03. I Wouldn’t Have Missed It For The World
05. In The Country
06. Heaven Tonight
08. Nowhere Fast
09. What She Meant To Me
10. Let It Ride
These days the debut album from newcomers Darkhorse hit the stores. Ok, “newcomer” seems not to be the right word, because if you take a closer look at the band line-up you’ll see that no other than former Danger Danger vocalist Paul Laine founded this band and that makes everything more interesting. Laine was absent for 9 years. At least I haven’t heard something new from him for so long and now he is back in the Rock circus with a group that is supposed to be a country rock band. If you are shocked now, then you can skip this review, but open-minded people and fans of the genre may find an insider tip here.
So, how can I describe the music on “Let It Ride”? It’s definitely a pop-rock-record, which combines elements of Melodic Rock, AOR and for sure: lot’s of country. This mixture isn’t new. Do you remember Bon Jovi’s “Lost Highway” from 2008? It sounds exactly like that and could easily be the unofficial follow-up to this megaseller and this is not the only similarity to the New Jersey rockers. Generally, Bon Jovi is written all over this album. That begins with some melody-lines (for example in the chorus of the pretty cool opener “You Were The One I Waited For”) and ends with the polished production from recent BJ records.
But somehow Darkhorse can mange it to exude a certain lightness, which brings you in a really good and positive mood. It’s a softer kind of music to relax, perfect for some long summer nights and if you imagine how the sun goes down and a tune like “In The Country” plays in the background then this album creates a special magic, which you can’t escape. The mentioned song reminds me a bit at older singer-songwriter stuff from Gregg Fulkerson (R.I.P.) of Blue Tears by the way.
If you need another song to dream and to forget your daily problems you can listen to the beautiful ballad “Goodbye”. Furthermore the ultra catchy “Better Days” and the more rockin’ title track “Let It Ride” are very good tracks to sing-along and are better than most of the stuff Bon Jovi delivered with “Lost Highway”.
But of course this album is also far away from being a masterpiece or a future classic. After five tracks I felt a bit supersaturated from all the country stuff, because song structures and arrangements are often the same and so there isn’t much tension on this album. The melodies are all nice and they hurt nobody, but after a couple of songs it leads to boredom. With tracks like “Heaven Tonight”, “Nowhere Fast” and the ultra cheesy “What She Meant To Me” the fascination of “Let It Ride” gets a bit lost. I was very open minded when I started to listen to this album, but “What She Meant To Me” was truely enough for me. With that one Darkhorse scare off every Rocker and I can understand it if some of them stop listening to this band then. As I said above you’ve to be prepared that this album is more pop than rock, don’t expect a country-metal act like Dezperadoz. Especially Metalheads, Hard Rockers and even Danger Danger die-hards won’t have fun with this record. People who are into newer Bon Jovi stuff and the Melodic Rockers of you should give it a listen.
Speaking about the band performance itself there isn’t much to complain about, there are some really nice guitar solos on here and Paul Laine has still such a charismatic and warm voice, which takes the songs to another level. He is in top form, as well as the whole band. They sound so tight that you could think they would play for ten years already. The polished production underlines the pop-rock direction and I would have liked to find some more edges in sound here and there, just something that keeps the listening experience interesting during the whole playtime.
With “Let It Ride” it’s the same like many other records: after a satisfying first half, the song material gets a little bit weaker, because you’ve heard all the song ideas within the first five songs and after that there isn’t much left to explore. Maybe the whole thing would have been more interesting with more balls in the sound. Nevertheless I’ve to admit that Darkhorse manage it very well to give you a feel good vibe and if you need an album which takes you away from everyday life this is an insider tip for you!
Written by Thomas