"Second to None" (Frontiers Music SRL; 2024)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

"Second to None" is a sturdy AOR album, full of the power chords, the smooth vocals and the radio-friendly rhythms that define the genre. There are a few songs here that teeter into hard rock territory ("Rock Bottom," the faster-paced "Sweet Talker," and the chunky "All Or Nothing" and the relatively heavy guitars of "Achilles' Heel.") The ballads you'd expect from an AOR album are aplenty as well, including "Lily" and the closer "Daze of Yesterday." Other tracks are a brilliant cross between the others.

It's not that I didn't like "Second to None." I enjoyed listening to it, and I'll probably dig it out again in the future. It's just that it's a little tame for me. The band's sound (on this album, at least) brings to mind artists like Toto and Journey and, although I respect both of those bands, I like my stuff a little heavier. For example, my idea of great AOR is the legendary Axe.

Regardless, I respect what Grand has done here as well and, if you're more of a fan of AOR than I am, you'll want to bump up the two-and-a-half guitarsaws I've given this album up at least another notch. The musicianship, the vocals, the songwriting and the production value are all here. I just prefer my rock a little louder.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2024 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.