Sunstorm – Emotional Fire (2012, Frontiers Records)
1. “Never Give Up”
2. “Emotional Fire”
3. “Lay Down Your Arms”
4. “You Wouldn’t Know Love”
5. “Wish You Were Here”
6. “Torn In Half”
8. “The Higher You Rise”
10. “Follow Your Heart”
11. “All I Am”
Joe Lynn Turner – Lead Vocals
Uwe Reitenauer – Guitar
Dennis Ward – Bass, Guitar, Backing Vocals
Chris Schmidt – Drums
Justin Dakey – Keyboard
Producer: Dennis Ward
There’s a few things I didn’t know about this Joe Lynn Turner/Dennis Ward project before researching this album. The first thing is that I wasn’t aware that the very first Sunstorm album debuted in 2006 (I had always thought 2009’s House of Dreams was the debut). Secondly, for those albums most of the songs recorded were songs that JLT had written in the past, either for other artists or himself.
With Emotional Fire there’s a twist because instead of recording songs that he had a hand in writing, Joe is covering songs that he sang backing vocals on. Examples: Michael Bolton’s “Gina” and Cher’s “Emotional Fire”. But don’t think this is just an album of old songs. A number of songs have been penned members of the current crop of AOR/melodic rockers who hold connections to Issa, Vega, Khymera and Xorigin.
My absolute favorite track is “Lay Down Your Arms”. Seriously, I’ve probably listened to that song about 15 times. It’s only January when I’m hearing this but this has got to be one of the best songs of 2012 when it’s all said and done. You’ll have to excuse my AOR ignorance because I am not sure if this is a new song or something Joe sang background vocals on in the past but it has enough of a modern touch that I can imagine it playing on a Top Forty station. There’s a great hook in this song.
The other song that stands out above the rest is “Never Give Up”, which is a great way to open the album. A bit cheesy with the lyrics perhaps: “never give up/never give in/if you believe it/you can win” but it’s so infectious and positive I had to use it as my Facebook status! It’s a fun & very upbeat melodic rocker.
The rest of the album is fairly standard AOR/melodic rock fare but some of it is quite good like “You Wouldn’t Know Love” and “The Higher You Rise”. Some songs like the closing ballad “All I Am”, “Follow Your Heart” and the cover of Bolton’s “Gina” fall flat with me but that’s because I’m not a hardcore AOR fan. I know the previous Sunstorm albums were well-received so I have no doubt this album will please fans of the first two releases and JLT fans in general. Even in his 60s, Joe is still proving that he is one of the best voices around for the genre.
Highlights: “Never Give Up”, “Lay Down Your Arms”, “You Wouldn’t Know Love”, “Torn In Half”, “The Higher You Rise”