Probably one of the most unexpected albums to be released in some time was finally unveiled this week. Though most music lovers under the age of 30 won’t be too familiar with the name, Don Felder is no stranger within the industry. In fact, this guy, as anyone over 30 will agree with, is nothing short of a rock icon.
Road to Forever is the brand new record for the once-upon-a-time Eagle and a record that has been a lengthy 3 decades in the making. Felder first found fame back in the mid 60’s at the age of 15 forming The Continentals, a band which also had Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills & Nash fame. Felder was also the man responsible for teaching fellow rock veteran Tom Petty how to play guitar. Living the life as a session musician and bouncing between semi-successful bands throughout the 60’s and early 70’s, Felder’s profile rose after he was invited to play for The Eagles on the American supergroups third album, 1974’2 On The Border, joining the band as an official member the day after his audition.
Over the course of seventies Felder formed an integral clonk in the Eagles success. In addition to co-writing the songs Disco Strangler, Too Many Hands and Visions and adding his distinctive guitar playing skills to the bands biggest records including One Of The Nights and The Long Run, his most acclaimed contribution came on the bands signature album, ‘Hotel California’, and most notably for writing the album’s title track. The Eagles went on to become the biggest American band in history, selling a staggering 120 million records globally and Felder stayed with the band until his dismissal in 2001. Telling all in a book about the trials and tribulations of being an Eagle called Heaven and Hell: My Life In The Eagles (1974 – 2001), Felder took time out of the public eye, gathering his life and thoughts together to release finally release his first solo record since 1983’s Airborne.
It was hard to pinpoint the standout moment upon my first listen to Road To Forever. Each of the tracks on the record have a life of their own and bring something fresh and different to the table but if I had to choose it would have to be Fall From The Grace Of Love, the opening number and the first song on the record to propel the musician back into recording life. I mean, what a track! Sounding somewhere between Bryan Adams and fellow Eagles ex-band mate Don Henley, Fall From The Grace Of Love is without doubt THE standout track on the record and the perfect number to usher in the long awaited new material. The anthemic chorus resonates perfectly around its catchy guitar driven verses. The subtle piano melody that sits within the chorus is also a complimenting rider within the track. Bluesy tones run thick on Girl in Black. A bustling number, the track boasts some meaty guitar riffs and hooks that make you wonder why Felder ever chose to be away from the public eye for so long.
As well as writing or co-writing all of the material on Road To Forever, Felder enlisted the help of some of the most acclaimed musicians in the industry and those who he has worked with over the past few decades. Joining the list is David Crosby, Graham Nash, Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills and Nash, Toto’s Steve Porcaro and David Paich, Steve Lukather, Randy Jackson and Tommy Shaw of Styx fame making the collection not just a great comeback record but also a fantastic collaborative journey.
With the following Wash Away we are given one of the albums key mid-tempo numbers with some fantastic vocal arrangements while the storming closer, Give A Life, delivers some incredibly heartfelt lyrics displaying the vulnerable side of an icon rediscovering life.
You Don’t Have Me is a defiant rock hit with a kick. The verses pull you right into the track with their pulsating rhythm before the number slides into a powerful, harmony fuelled chorus with a confident guitar solo filling in the center of the track.
Though vocals are not really Felder’s strong point he doesn’t do too badly on Road To Forever. Felder’s musicianship and lyrical mastery keeps you by his side throughout the entire collection. There isn’t a dull moment found within any of the 11 tracks making up Road To Forever and that is a rare thing to come across these days. While most of todays ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ acts may find solace in churning out heartless records filled with recycled instrumental fodder, Road To Forever proves that time and dedication is what makes or breaks a release.
An acclaimed and influential songwriter, New York Times best-seller and phenomenal multi-talented musician, Don Felder has hit the nail right on its head with the release of Road To Forever and it is great to have one of the masters of music back after so many years.
::: RenownedForSound.com’s Editor and Founder –
Interviewing and reviewing the best in new music and globally recognized artists is his passion.
Over the years he has been lucky enough to review thousands of music releases and concerts and interview artists ranging from top selling superstars like 27-time Grammy Award winner Alison Krauss, Boyz II Men, Roxette, Cyndi Lauper, Lisa Loeb and iconic Eagles front man/songwriter, Glenn Frey through to more recent successes including Newton Faulkner, Janelle Monae and Caro Emerald.
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