After being away from Hard Rock music for some 20 years something when Lee Aaron was raising a family and singing jazz, Aaron has been in a creative state of mind – this is her third album in five years. Her come-back album Fire And Gasoline (2016) however left quite the bit to be desired. Instead of going back to her melodic Hard Rock roots she released a more modern sounding album more in the vein of Avril Lavigne and such which I thought suited her badly. The follow-up, 2018’s Diamond Baby Blues was a half covers, half original album, an album that first felt a bit half-assed yet better than the debut but has since grown a whole lot on me – and the covers she did she did very well most of the time. With her new album it’s all originals – and what it looks like, a more back-to-basics Lee Aaron record.
Aaron and her band kicks off the album with the latest single ”Vampin'”, a fat-grooved and hooky rocker that bursts away with a crunchy riff and a ballsy rhythm made for rockin’ out. It’s a somewhat sleazy stomper with a sexy swagger with a Classic Rock outlook and memorable melodies all over the place – and the chorus is terrific and catches on right from hello. ”Soul Breaker” jumps on us with a steady, solid beat and some crunchy guitars that hold some vintage, blues-rock laden vibes and with the smoother but also somewhat souly vocal-melodies it brings on vibes from both Classic Rock and Melodic Rock. The direct refrain hits bullseye right off the bat without going radio-friendly on us. Damn good.
Leading single ”C’mon” is an upbeat pop-rocker, very uplifting and positive and a radio-friendly, mainstream outlook. It’s a foot-stomper and the rhythm is very infectious with sticky hooks and an über-catchy pop-refrain impossible to remove from the brain once it’s glued to it. The hit-potential is endless, believe you me. I’m a sucker for this kind of song. The blues-rocky ”Mama Don’t Remember” takes a turn towards Classic Rock with a straight-forward beat, steady as a rock, very chunky and raunchy with the guitars turned up and a sexy flowing atmosphere all over. It’s melodic, memorable with a hook deluxe chorus. I can imagine Lee with band rocking up a sweaty club somewhere with this.
The guitar-driven title-track is an upbeat party-stomper that blends a whole bunch of direct and slightly pop-laden melodies with a chunky soul-rock groove and a bit of a country twist. It’s one heck of a catchy cut and the chorus is one of those that will leave you humming it for days. I dig. ”Soho Crawl” is really just a good-time Rock ’n’ Roll number with a mighty groove, a back-up piano and a live-friendly beat. It’s based on a crunchy, 70’s Classic Rock swagger but on top lies a whole lot of contagious melodies that hail from the mid 80’s – and the refrain is very direct and in-your-face. This too has a big live-feel to it. Good one.
”Devil’s Gold” is a darkening, slower piece, a lounge-jazzy blues ballad with an ominous atmosphere. It’s moody, down-beat and held-back with an intriguing vocal-melody – and it really gets under my skin immediately. It’s no single-material but a damn good song that differs a lot from the rest and helps giving the album more substance and dynamics. Awesome. ”Russian Doll” is a bluesy rocker with a groovy bass-line and a rhythmic drum-beat which carries the gritty guitars and the rowdy feel of the song. It’s a faster paced hard-rocker that glimpses at 70’s Classic Rock and again, this will work any festival crowd out there. Oh yeah, the chorus is stellar as well. Great.
In a slower tempo, the heavy rock-tune ”Great Big Love” brings on some crunchy Classic Rock laden guitars, a beefy rhythm and soul-inspired vocal melodies. It’s an uplifting, very memorable tune with a sexy swagger and a country-twang flirting. Good stuff indeed. ”Wasted” starts out as a ballad, mellow and stripped with only a guitar and vocals but continues as a mid-paced rocker with a muscular and raunchy guitar and a solid, steady beat. There’s a darker ambience involved as well which contrasts brilliantly against the melodic and smoother vocal-melodies. The song then ends just like the way it started. A good track.
”Had Me At Hello” is party-happy and rhythmic rocker that belongs in early 90’s Arena Rock with some kicking guitar riffage and a slightly funky groove which gives the song a good, juicy swing. The whole tune is very playful, a bit happy-go-lucky – and I mean that in the best of ways – and the chorus is direct and effective with a big hit-potential. Very good. Closing track and second single ”Twenty One” is a slow and mellow piano-ballad with a bluesy feel to it. The song holds a somewhat spacey atmosphere, a gorgeous main-melody and emotional vocals. The chorus is beautifully memorable and goes right for the heart. I’m not sure this’ll work as a single but damn what a splendid song it is.
This album is without a doubt one of the most pleasant surprises this year – maybe even the most pleasant surprise of all. Lee Aaron has always been a terrific singer with both range, feel, raspiness and smoothness but on here the songs are all right on track as well. It’s without any doubt one of her finest efforts to date – at least of the stuff I have heard from her – where every song has something to say. It’s varied and there are no fillers to find. At 59, Lee Aaron – born Karen Greening – hasn’t lost one iota of her voice and sounds as strong and youthful as ever and now she has one heck of an album to go with that too. This is Aaron’s real welcome back album, in my opinion. So I say welcome back – and keep ’em coming.