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Colin Blades, self-titled (Connoisseur)
Being the son of former Night Ranger and Damn Yankees frontman Jack Blades doesn't hold the same burden Sean and Julian Lennon encountered when they tried to carve out musical careers, but ultimately, Colin Blades does have the baggage of a successful father to carry as he kicks off his own career in the industry. The question is, does this help or hinder him? On the surface, with dad helping out on the production duties it seems as though having a well-known father in the music industry is a good thing on this occasion, but on further inspection of Colin Blades, it seems Colin should have enlisted the help of his old man with the songwriting instead. Despite Blades junior possessing his father's melodic style and warm, Californian voice, he hasn't developed the ability to consistently write decent songs as of yet. Indeed, listening to some of the pale, insipid songs on this album makes me wonder just how many musical doors would have opened for Colin Blades without such a famous father. The laid back, acoustic vibe of opening track "Been Too Long" may recall his father's post Damn Yankees acoustic album, Hallucination and have a decent melody and sunny, west-coast vibe, but apart from this and the soaring "Are You with Me Or Not?", there's precious little else here to merit similar praise. To put it bluntly, Blades has very little of interest to say in his songwriting, which wouldn't be such a bad thing if it weren't for the fact his melodies and hooks are generally of even less consequence than his lyrics. Defining moments or outstanding songs are non-existent; the whole album manages to be almost entirely safe and predictable throughout. Too often, on songs such as the annoying "Norah" and the drab "All I Ever Ask", it's rock-by-numbers. The multi-cultural theme of "Black" has all been said before more eloquently than on patronising lyrics such as, "All my friends are black / And all my friends are blue / All my friends are red and green and colours I choose", and elsewhere, on songs such as "My Own Life" do a poor job of presenting authentic singer-songwriter introspection. "Coincidental Lovers" apes the Beatles without too much success and schmaltzy acoustic ballad "Best Friend" might have had more effect were it not surrounded by too many other similar sounding songs. There are a couple of other songs which hold some promise at least, including "Say Goodbye Again", a half-decent breathless ballad which is high on sincerity and effort but sadly low on originality. The single, "White Holiday" is at least something different, recalling the jazz-pop approach of John Mayer, but only without Mayer's lyrical dexterity and mark of quality. Perhaps only Hootie & the Blowfish's new self-titled release matches Colin Blades for sheer blandness and tedium, but at least Blades has the excuse that he is only just starting out on a musical career. Next time around, he might be better off trying a harder, more contemporary approach in a band environment where he is not the centre of attention, because this time around, Colin Blades is trying too hard to live up to his dad's name and reputation.