Edition: 60
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Album reviews:
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Secret Smile

01. This is our time now
02. I believe in you
03. Wasn´t meant to be
04. Don´t want to
05. We´re sticking around
06. I´m on my way
07. Heaven only knows
08. We ended up okay
09. The hardest part
10. Common ground
11. Not my heartache (anymore)
12. All of the things I ever needed
Secret Smile is a band that is up and running for some time now and is living their second life so to speak. With roots in ‘grunge county’ New Haven, Connecticut, the first part of their existence Secret Smile made a name in the 80’s AOR direction. The mixture of powerpop and melodic rock made them swimming against the stream of the change of the interest of the music industry towards melodic rock. Nevertheless they supported big names back in those days: Meatloaf, Foreigner, Dokken, Winger, Ratt, Danger Danger, Starship and many more. Secret Smile has played with the best, but has never reached that level for themselves and after 2 albums the band decided to break up in 1997.

Their second life started in 2003 when the members since 1994 reunited: Ken Barberio (guitar/keyboards), TJ Gabriele (vocals), Bob Ventresca (drums), Scott Wilson (guitars) and Todd Wilson (bass). The fun in playing their feel good music resulted in The Road Less Travelled (2003), Hurry up and Wait (2005) and this album This is our time now (2009). During their second life they´ve played again with Foreigner and Danger Danger, and singer Ted Poley (Danger Danger) even sang backing vocals on Hurry up and Wait. The eighties quartz-lettertype on the album cover is the proof that the band is sticking to their guns into the 80’s AOR direction, but the 12 songs on this album prove it even more. The album totally sounds like there never even was a digital era or compact discs. That captures the charm of the 80’s style, but gives me the feeling that Secret Smile is trying to relive the golden age of AOR. In other words, it sounds out-dated. But they do it in style, like the tambourine in combination with acoustic guitar in Wasn’t meant to be or the multi vocal choirs or backing vocals like in the semi ballad I’m on my way. The keyboard sauce poured over it with perfect powerpop vocals of TJ Gabriele finishes it all off.

To my findings, there is no song really exceptional compared to the others and therefore this album has a typical ‘80’s saturation’ hanging over it. That description gives them not enough credits for the feel good music and level of the presentation. For the AOR fans among us, brought by Envision Records.

  Rating: 65 /100

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