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Artist:  Dream Pilots 
Label:  Red Hammer Records
Time:  11Tracks / 48 mins

It is refreshing to hear a CCM band from Scandinavia, as they have no need to make the Nashville-centric assumptions that kill the art of most in the genre. Unfortunately, they do not control this freedom, and as their many ideas go off in several directions, there is no real coherence to the disc.

On top of that, although they give hints of what their sound could be like, the production and mix on this is so rough that you can often get the feeling that the guitar and keyboards take it in turns to play, rather than working together.

It all starts off brilliantly, as “Keep My Soul” has everything in the right place: rhythm, melody, a retro synth hook and a delicately flanged guitar. Here the mix is just right and they have a radio-friendly prayer that talks about “a glimpse of eternity / There’s more to life than my eye can see / Deep in the dirt I found my redemption.” 

Where this track is a pointer to the bubbly Euro-synth pop of Air, “Eye Candy” nails that sound at the intro and chorus. You could put up with the verses sounding a bit thin, but then a fairly brutal riff comes out of nowhere to spoil the feel, so you end up with a bitty song of three different moods. “Pick Me Up” has a similarly disparate sound, but in this case the variety is gentler and works well within the song – it’s just across the disc as a whole that it adds to the lack of clear direction. Its mix of glam guitar with sixties keyboard tones gives it a definite Stranglers feel, but then you suddenly find yourself listening to the Doors as a loose keyboard solo makes this the longest track, and almost the only one that has an American edge. (The other one that sounds like it comes from outside Europe is the fairly straight and sparse blues of “Broken Man.”)

The title track, “Stones” and “One More Time” all have either a thinness of sound or seem stretched out too long, which puts unfair pressure on the other tracks to perform to save the album.

It’s a real shame, because the band has a welcome freshness of ideas and a spiritual content that makes real points. For example, “Walking through Walls” is about losing the Pharisaical mentality within the church, and the energetic “Begging You” (which is built around a line they must have bought in a second-hand riff shop) is a prayer for God to flow in our lives and release us from the struggle of doing what we don’t want to do.

Maybe they are great live, where the sound does not have to be so refined, and a greater variety helps to keep interest in the music; but here they try to play Euro-pop, blues, stoner rock, rifferama and a thin, unimpassioned version of rock that shouts, “Identity crisis!”

I would love to see them concentrate on the melodic, bubbly and loveable Euro-pop that they do so well on in places. They have great heart and ideas, but are in desperate need of a producer who can capture their enthusiasm while harnessing and directing the sonic side.

Download:      “Keep My Soul”

Derek Walker


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