Boston - Life, Love & Hope

Boston Life, Love & Hope cover
Life, Love & Hope
Frontiers Records
Funny how life is... Boston, tackled “Corporate America” and that culture and mentality on its previous album, and they lost all support within the industry, I suppose, got marginalized, in the meantime corporate America reigns supreme, selling overpriced goods to people who can’t afford them while it eats away at its own flesh and other nations too, unsustainable as it is. The band itself suffered some terrible tragedies when the late Brad Delp took his own life, some years ago, for reasons yet quite unclear, but probably having to do with depression.
After a ten years hiatus, the band returns, with an album that, I am not entirely sure if it was exactly meant to be... I mean, on one hand, there’s no pressure for them to return, I would imagine, but it also is so, I dunno how to put it... Boston were always Tom Scholz’s baby, but his insistence to keep the band’s rituals – “the same” up until today, may help them in sounding consistent, but maybe has deprived them of sounding more contemporary. They do sound at this point a bit out-dated, while on the previous album they seemed, as if they were able to somehow infuse a youthfulness, in their sound, catching up with the times, without betraying their roots.
Obviously there’s nothing bad with being retro, especially, when you originally come from that “era”.
“Life, Love & Hope” has nice songs, make no mistake about it. But I can’t help it trying to imagine it with a different production. In fact it boggles my mind that there are a couple of (2.0) versions of songs that constitute re-recordings of those “C.A” tunes? Not happy with how they turned out? Two songs short of an album?
“Heaven on Earth” is a great song in the great tradition of Boston with rich guitar harmonies and David Victor laying down some pretty good vocals and with the aid of Louis St. August and Tom himself on vocal harmonies, this track sounds very solid and very “Boston”-like.
“Didn’t Mean to Fall in Love” is a superb song, with all of the band’s trademarks and the late and great BD, amply displaying, why he will be greatly missed... really smooth, sensational vocals that drip sentiment...
“Last Day at School” is a short and playful instrumental, with lush Boston-ese harmonies, running through it... and even a bit of a Brian May touch in there, somewhere...
“Sail Away” is a rather bizarre song… with voice-overs about politicians in helicopters and Brad Delp and Kimberley Dahme exchanging vocals. When I mentioned that I am not sure if the album was meant to be… well the audio quality of this track seems somewhat “lesser” it sounds like a really polished demo that has been mastered to the best possible result, but not a proper “final”... so I am a little hypothetical in that this maybe collecting older material from the late BD to sort of get it released, in memory, while it may not have exactly have been 100% intended/considered ready. It’s just me hypothesizing though, because of things like this and the “re-recordings”.
“Life, Love & Hope” features Tommy DeCarlo on vocals and is quite up-tempo and hopeful, even if it has a couple of reflective moments… a much needed glimmer of hope.
“If You Were in Love” is a piece for Kimberly Dahme, to show off, her voice and it’s quite serene and beautiful, in not for the sequenced drums being a little too prevalent in the mix at places. And what's with the handclaps – they too could have been a little lower as well.
“Someday” is a decent enough up-tempo tune with Decarlo, TS and a lady called Jude Nejmanowski, sharing vocal duties. In unison, they sound pretty good. In general, it should be avoided that Scholz should be left to sing solo, even if it’s his band.
Damn I spoke too fast… “Love Got Away” has none other than Tom Scholz, doing lead vocals and it’s a slow guitar driven ballad. Well let’s say that he’s a better instrumentalist than he’s a singer, but here he puts a pretty convincing performance in his low scruffy, rough voice that he extends to the top of his range to harmonize with fellow guitarist Gary Pihl, who sings somewhat higher, but obviously in some harmonic above him, managing to sound pretty nice!
“Someone” (2.0) is an awesome song, one of the best songs on “C.A” and still here, it remains a brilliant song as well, in a slightly different take... with different solos and slightly different instrumentation
“You Gave Up on Love” (2.0) has DeCarlo dueting with Dahme, and for the love of god, I can’t remember if that’s the way the song originally was, if I remember originally it must have been only Dahme, with harmonies, of, which here, we have a TON of, with the same people doubling themselves and another lady by the name of Beth Cohen, antagonizing Dahme... It’s a nice song done with a lot of harmonies! If harmonies are your thing…
“The Way You Look Tonight” (!?) I was expecting the classic, but apparently this is a TS, original, with Decarlo on vocals, not on par with the classic obviously, but a fair ballad, that closes up this “compilation” of tracks, rather ideally.
I suppose, this album is a little uneven, a bit of a mis-mash, but with all the tragedies and tribulations it’s quite OK, all things considered. I’d like to see Scholz, actually, allowing some-one else to take over production from him, it would have to be someone he trusts and it would have to be someone that knew what he was doing... but a “more” vital sounding Boston, even as an EP experiment, might have been interesting. What about doing some “3.0”s of some of these! Just for fun!
Hope it doesn’t take another 10 years, for the good space/guitarship Boston to land again!