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  ISSA
'Crossfire'
(Frontiers)
Release Date: 20th February 2015


Ian Sutherland

ian sutherland



issa

The glory days of melodic rock/AOR, call it what you will, may be long gone and the big guns like Journey and Toto are no longer a force in the charts however many of them are still successful touring acts and releasing new material and behind those bands there is veritable cottage industry of acts carrying on with the traditions of big vocals, loads of harmonies and choruses you can sing along to. Rock but in a pink, fluffy and radio friendly way.

One of these acts is Issa, a Norwegian singer (real name Isabel Overseen) who has been quietly building a reputation for quality melodic rock and 'Crossfire' is her fourth album in a short five year span.

Like any underground music scene (this music was the mainstream once, now it's the underground alternative!) it's comparatively small and everyone knows everyone else so this album features an impressive list of guests such as Steve Overland from FM and Robert Sall from Work Of Art.

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The title track opens the album and sets the tone immediately. A sweet, melodic little uptempo tune it is full of hooks and harmonies and sounds like a mix of Romeo's Daughter, Heart and FM, very eighties in feel but deliberately so.

John Greatwood and James Martin from Vega have produced the album and done a superb job, highlighted by the huge yet lush, layered sound on 'New Horizon'. In a different way the vocals on 'Raintown' are allowed to breathe and show off the duet between Issa and the instantly recognisable tones of the aforementioned Mr Overland.

'Long Time Coming' has a catchy insistent riff and nice harmonies but 'Fight Fire With Rain' is a by the numbers ballad and the following song 'Heartbeat' sounds too much like what has gone before for my ears.

After a promising start I think the album tails off dramatically in the second half and while there is the odd moment of excellent keyboard and guitar playing the songs just sound too poppy and formulaic to match up to what has gone before. The big beats added to album closer 'Only You' promise a big finish to proceedings but the song itself fails to hit any heights for me.

'Crossfire' is an album which is aimed squarely at the core market of melodic rock fans. It is unashamedly attempting to recapture the sound of the late eighties and early nineties. It does a pretty good job of that and as I have mentioned has a top notch production job.

However Issa is a good singer but not a great one, and the songs are too often generic rather than great so despite a promising first half ultimately I ended up feeling slightly disappointed. However if you are a fan of melodic hard rock and are looking to hear that classic sound brought alive then by all means check this album out, it may open up a whole new world for you.

Line up:
Issa - vocals and bv's
James Martin – Keyboards
Tom Martin - bass and Guitars
Michael Cruise – Drums

Online:
https://www.facebook.com/issasite/timeline




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