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Borders by Henry Naylor: An Intensely Compelling Look From Two Sides Of War – Adelaide Fringe Review
House Of Wow.
Recorded at the pivotal Sunset Sound studios in LA, Breakthrough permeates with sounds of the veritable who’s who of artists that encompass the DNA of rock. The grooves are tight and the musicianship throughout is unquestionably outstanding. And one would expect nothing less from some of the finest session musicians in the business. Legendary guitarist Tim Pierce, for example, has recorded with Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Michael Jackson and a myriad of others. Equally the production and mixes by Jeff Bova are world class, and each track drips with a slick ‘LA sound’.
Opening with a happy, bouncy, pop-infused track, Two Young Hearts sets the tone for the remainder of the EP. The catchy guitar hook repeats several times, and creates a beautiful segue into the final chorus following the harmonic and emotional dip of minor chords in the bridge. Jag delivers some big notes and the production on his vocals is equally big, with a substantial amount of reverb spilling out at the end of each phrase.
Nothing But You delves a little more into driving rock territory whilst maintaining the previous track’s intensity and vocal soul flourishes.
My Life Is Changed is the turning point of the EP and offers Jag more freedom to explore vocal subtlety and extended falsetto range. It is an epic, pop anthem with relenting, driving rhythms. It takes the listener to the pinnacle of a peak, drops like the crash of a wave and rides back up to the crest again. A delightful sonic inclusion is the use of a metallophone, the single note melody ringing clear above band.
You Make Me Feel So Good starts with the four-on-the-floor bass thump premise of a country tune but morphs into a contemporary slow disco, and then briefly forays into funky groove territory reminiscent of Jamiroquai.
The penultimate title track, Breakthrough is another pop ballad full of crisp, clean production and superb musicianship. Jag again is in fine vocal form, delivering a warm, rounded tone and perfectly executed phrasing that Freddie Mercury would be proud of.
The final track, Sweet Summer Smile, brings the fun and it is quite simply funky! The uncomplicated lyrics suit this playful song.
Breakthrough is without doubt a very listenable album but it verges on the precipice of being one-dimensional. Each track is heavily layered and ‘overly produced’, and to some extent lacks dynamic contrast and that essential rawness that Jag consistently delivers at his live shows, to the point where it could be rendered background due to its sameness. Lyrically the themes revolve around love connections but the recurrent rhyming doesn’t necessarily assist to capture one’s imagination or communicate an effective story. Despite this, Jag delivers every lyric with incredible conviction and passion, and each of the six tracks on Breakthrough has an air of optimism with gutsy vocal delivery, great arrangements and superb playing.
Breakthrough is available at smarturl.it/BreakthroughEP. Click HERE to purchase your copy.