Released by: HMMR Records/Cargo Records
Release Date: August 15th, 2013
Genre: Melodic Rock
01. Wrecking Ball
02. Ain’t That Just Like Love
06. Check Your Attitude
07. Burnin’ Me Down (feat. James Christian)
08. Perfect Storm
09. Ya Can’t Fight Love
10. I Swear The Nights
11. Follow You
Most of you will still remember the Coca Cola advertisement with Robins song “First Time”, which was a huge success for the American singer. In the last 25 years Robin Beck released another 6 albums, but sadly she couldn’t repeat the success she had with her No.1 hit from 1988. Now she is back and yes, Robin did lots of things right this time. I’ll tell you why!
It’s funny that I write this review right after the new solo record from James Christian, because he is her husband and he also produced this album. But if you think “Underneath” sounds like “Lay It All On Me” you are definitely wrong.
Yes, also Robin Beck belongs to the category “melodic rock” and AOR, but to my luck we don’t get an overdose of cheesy keyboards here! Instead of this, Robin presents straight melodic rock/guitar driven pop-rock, which isn’t so overproduced and just feels real and handmade and this is the the first thing I’d like to point out – the sound is really traditional, but at the same time it feels fresh!
This is no wonder, because Robin had lots of help this time when it comes to songwriting: Glen Butnik (Styx), Barry Jay, Fiona, Linnea Deb & Joy Deb (Swedish Eurovision 2013 winners), Charlie Mason (Miley Cyrus) and Mark Smith (Cinema Bizarre) – just to name a few. You see the songwriter-list is huge this time, and I was afraid that the final product would sound like a mash-up of pop songs without a real red line in it, but these fears didn’t come true. “Underneath” sounds like a complete work, the songs fit together very well.
For sure, Robin walks on a real thin line between melodic rock and pop. Yes, every song is very commercial and radio-friendly, but honestly all songs of Robin had to deal with this in the past. Luckily nothing on this record sounds like Miley Cyrus or Cinema Bizarre. Maybe a bit like Avril Lavigne (“Check Your Attitude”, because of it’s funky style), but all other tracks are pure melodic rock tracks, which deserve the brand “Robin Beck”.
The opener “Wrecking Ball”, “Ain’t That Just Like Love” and “Sprain” are really rockers, which I wouldn’t have expected from Mrs. Beck. The title track “Underneath” is the first ballad, but with a healthy rockin’ edge. It doesn’t sound mortifying or too soft.
Next song “Catfight” is one of those songs, which sound quite fresh and are catchy as hell. Damn, this song makes me feel so good, the chorus is pure melodic rock bliss.
“Burning Down” slows things down a bit. This is the second ballad with a strong chorus again and with husband James Christian on guest vocals. Perfect couple, there is nothing more to say. Christian again delivers great vocal performance.
Speaking of vocals in general I can just say Robin Beck has one of the last big female rock voices of the “old generation”. You know, there are lots of female singers out there today, but most of them just sing in the same style: very clear or theatrically. Look at all the female fronted (Symphonic) Metal bands. There aren’t much female singers left, who sound so rough with so much power in their voice (thinking of Doro or Bonnie Tyler right now). Robin Beck has this special thing in her voice, which makes her unique and she knows how to use it. She just rocks, when she is putting all her energy into her voice! Great!
Let’s get back to the songs: “Perfect Storm” is another solid rocker, but combined to the songs before it sounds a bit replaceable. “Ya Can’t Fight Love” makes some things better and lets you forget the filler before.
“I Swear The Nights” … I had to laugh a bit when I heard this one for the first time, because this seems to be Robins version of Whitesnakes “Here I Go Again”. Many melody-lines are so similar in this tune and also the song structure is nearly the same, but “Here I Go Again” was a great song and so this track is also a really good one. I had a smile on my face.
The album closes with “Follow You” – a melodic rock track, which reminds me at the early years of Robin, because this song sounds very traditional. Another good one.
I said already something about the production and vocal performance so now some words to the musicianship: it’s just tight and all instruments are very well matched. It’s a really enjoyable listening-experience.
Yeah finally I’ve to say I didn’t expect such a strong record from Robin Beck after all those years. I hope you melodic rock fans out there will go out and buy this one on August 15th, 2013! This is just a damn catchy and enjoyable album with a good down-to-earth-production, lots of fresh elements, which keep the whole thing interesting and a perfect rough female voice, which has become so rare nowadays. I keep my fingers crossed that Robin Beck will get their commercial success back with “Underneath”, because it’s simply her best album she has done in years and she deserves it!
Written by Thomas