Thursday 3 November 2022

Chez Kane - Powerzone (2022)

Country: UK
Style: Melodic Rock
Rating: 8/10
Release Date: 21 Oct 2022
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I liked Chez Kane's self-titled debut album last year, albeit not quite as much as its single, Too Late for Love, which was a melodic rock gem right out of the late eighties. This follow-up is even better, more like the single multiplied by ten to flesh out fifty minutes. It does all the things that the first album did but more consistently. There's a little bit more variety, but variety isn't the target here. That's to doubledown on the Chez Kane formula but make it bouncier and catchier and, well, more.

And everything is bouncy and catchy. I Just Want You is a strong bouncy and catchy opener, that's exactly what you think it ought to be, plus a great opportunity for Chez to demonstrate her breath control. (The Things We Do) When We're Young in Love is even bouncier and catchier. And so we go for a while. Sure, Rock You Up is a little poppier, especially early on, feeling like a sing-along party anthem, but it's definitely bouncy and catchy. Sure, Children of Tomorrow starts out a little softer with pop keyboards but it's bouncy and catchy and it builds well with a bagpipe sort of drone. Sure, the title track ups the tempo again. But none of these are huge variants on the formula.

What matters is that the formula works emphatically well here and it keeps on working through a solid array of ten tracks. Well, let's say nine because the closer, Guilty of Love, becomes something more again. It's a tenth solid track for four minutes, which includes a decent guitar solo by Danny Rexon, the lead singer of Swedish glam rock band Crazy Lixx, who once more provides almost all of the instrumentation here—Jesse Molloy handles saxophone, as he did last time too. But, from the four minute mark, it's pretty much all guitar for the entire second half of a song that runs neatly past eight minutes. It's a great Chez Kane song. Then it's a great Danny Rexon song. It's my clear highlight this time out.

In between, there's really not a lot to say. If you're into melodic rock with a strong female voice, a barrage of effortless hooks and an urgent tempo that constantly drives everything forward, then I'd be pretty sure this is right up your alley. Check out any one of these songs on YouTube, if you're unsure, but it really doesn't matter which. I'd suggest I Just Want You or maybe Love Gone Wild, a song with melodies and phrasing reminiscent of Femme Fatale's Waiting for the Big One, but with a less husky voice. Chez is more Pat Benatar than Lorraine Lewis, if you think of All Fired Up more than Love is a Battlefield. And there wasn't a saxophonist in Femme Fatale to add another texture.

And I could rabbit on for longer but there's not much point. Chez was clearly a star in the making a year ago on her solo debut and she's living up to that promise wonderfully. Not only is this a great follow-up, surely one of the melodic rock highlights of the year, but she's being invited onto other albums as a guest, like the debut from Ginevra, a new supergroup on Frontiers featuring Magnus Karlsson and members of H.E.A.T., Eclipse and House of Lords. The future couldn't be brighter for someone who seems to be as humbly down to earth as they come. Now go buy the album.

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