Boys From Heaven are a hybrid. It’s Westcoast, it’s AOR, it has its jazzy moments and clearly, it is ROCK with capital letters fused with soul-like moments.
Written by: Dave T
ARTIST: Boys From Heaven
ALBUM: The Great Discovery
LABEL: Target Records
SERIAL: TARGET2012CD, TARGET2012LP
SPONSOR: Target Records
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Denmark
LINEUP: Chris Catton – vocals * Mads Schaumann – guitar, vocals * Esben Christensen – guitar * Mads Noyé – keyboards * Jonas Klintström Larsen – saxophone * Andreas Valentin Berg – bass, vocals * Søren Viig – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 The Ascent * 02 Green Fields * 03 Sunshine Soul * 04 Burning Like A Flame * 05 * A Fool’s Hope * 06 Keep On Movin’ * 07 Memory * 08 Only Child * 09 Convictions * 10 Old Days * 11 Don’t You Cry * 12 Worlds Apart * 13 Smile
Formed back in 2015, Copenhagen-based Boys From Heaven are a seven-piece group captivated by the sound of the late seventies and early eighties that aims to recapture, in their own words, ‘the spirit of the great Eighties, captured in the modern studio’. They released the ‘No Way! But Anyway’ EP in 2017.
Fast forward to 2020, and this debut album has completely confused me. That’s a good thing as confusion takes you out of your comfort zone. How am I supposed to describe it? It’s Westcoast, it’s AOR, it has its jazzy moments and clearly, it is ROCK with capital letters fused with soul-like moments.
What if, after a soaring vocal line, when you are expecting a face-melting guitar solo, a sweet sax intervention rears its head instead? What about a Pomp-like synth line after that? Add to it a screaming guitar bend stressed by the use of a vibrato/whammy bar coming from nowhere, shaking you to keep your attention. All to be found on this album.
It fits Toto supporters tastes like a glove. However, Boys From Heaven reminded me of obscure greats Airborne amongst others, and their music seemed to me like created between 1979 and 1981, while recorded with a state-of-the-art, yet warm sound production, courtesy of the band themselves.
Vocalist Chris Catton has little things of Steve Winwood, Steve Perry, Phil Collins, Steven Tyler and David Coverdale here and there, but most of all he is himself, a strong voice deeply rooted on Soul and able to produce even the most soulful falsettos of the 21st century.
The organ-heavy intro ‘The Ascent’ introduces the vocal line to ‘Green Fields’ when surprisingly, a heavenly alto sax line starts said song that is a direct trip to blue skies and butterflies nuanced by soulful vocals and some mean guitars during the last bars.
‘Sunshine Soul’ is a breezy song in which the staccato piano and guitar arpeggios on the verses make good contrast with the dynamic refrains. ‘Burning Like A Flame’ will please Toto fans with a delivery many of them would not expect from that band these days. The incendiary guitar licks towards the end of the song are shocking.
‘A Fool’s Hope’ is overtly soulful yet so melodic with those little synth touches, a soaring refrain and the right amount of sweet sax; while the spicy ‘Keep On Movin’ rocks out up to its delectable Pomp-like synth lines. You can bet your car on the fact that ‘Memory’ would be a hit in a world where good taste was synonymous with successful singles. That chorus wouldn’t be bettered by the great late Prince at his most emotional delivery.
The short and hazy ‘Only Child’ sets the stage for the Westcoast feel of ‘Convictions’ with those trademark stabby keys. Then listen to the surprisingly happy parping keys surrounded by sax/ guitar fills and the superb chorus on ‘Old Days’, which deceives you by starting like a dreamy ballad. ‘Don’t You Cry’ is heavy on guitars and piano lines just as if it was 1979 all over again, yet it sounds as fresh as 2020.
‘Worlds Apart’ is a blues that does not sound like a blues because the electric piano, guitars and vocal lines are as intriguing as a probing question. The last song ‘Smile’ comes off as a sweet yet standard acoustic number, until a crunchy guitar of The Who proportions takes center stage to finish it out with a bang.
What if I told you about a band in the AOR/Melodic Rock world that is not afraid to steer clear of standard songwriting or style labels, one that sounds as if it was their third album instead of the debut and, in addition to that, does not hide behind compression and loudness war but offers a clean production with soulful, feeling-filled performances instead? If I were you, I would run to check them out.
Old Days (Live)
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