Torture Tunes

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I hear a combination of various rock n’ roll icons when I listen to the music of fellow Torontonian, Will Black. The tireless work ethic of Bruce Springstein, the accessibility of John Cougar Melloncamp and the flare and range of Sammy Hagar; these were just a few of the names that came to mind while I was listening to his debut album Dangerously Close.

Will’s solidly self-produced album kicks off with the radio friendly “Trace Your Tattoo”. It’s a decent enough rock song, as is “Original Rose” which follows it, but it was the funky third track “Vintage” that really got my attention. Fabulous guitar work! The rhythm section pull out all the stops and Will really rocks out in the vocal department too, making “Vintage” my favorite track on the album. “Holy Love” is a romantic rock ballad with excellent vocal work from Will and his female backup singer. I just couldn’t shake the clichéd feeling I got from it, but it's a decent track none-the-less and even slightly "eighties-retro". The next track “Pretty Garden” is a very catchy tune, and a great party song if I ever heard one.

“Rift Valley Fever” is another excellent bluesy-rocker that really showcases the talented musicians that support Mr. Black on this album. I enjoyed the unplugged “Hell Over Heaven” – loved the acoustic guitar and conga combination. “Forever Was Never Enough” is an uplifting rock anthem of sorts, and “Christine, Dangerously Close” adds a bit of intrigue, as well as the potential for storytelling, to the album.

I can’t find fault with Will's performance on Dangerously Close. It’s worth repeating the fact that he’s an excellent rock vocalist and a solid guitarist to boot. His songs and his sound are fairly memorable and fun, although I would personally like to see him explore his depth as a songwriter and lyricist a little more. I definitely see this potential in him – the ability to break away from mediocrity and expand his musical horizons while still remaining true to the style of music that he loves.

Dangerously Close is an upbeat album firmly seated in the mainstream section of the rock music spectrum – and there’s nothing wrong with that. If this sounds like your thing than I whole-heartedly encourage you to give Dangerously Close a listen.

Richard Leggatt, HMS

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