BEAUVOIR/FREE - "American Trash"
Rock legends Jean Beauvoir and Micki Free reunite with a collaboration that not only brings these two iconic musicians back together since the early Crown of Thorns days, but another dimension to the ear candy we have come to know from them. Their chemistry is well talked about, and American Trash certainly has the highlights of their previous work together.
Beauvoir/Free "American Trash" delivers a sonic boom of extremities. It's blistering in parts (Angels Cry), with guitar riffs that rip and tear, to elegant in its melody and orchestration, as heard on the albums exceptional ballad "Just Breathe".
The album is bluesy, sleazy in parts, yet melodic enough to bear fruit to harmonies from that melodic rock tree. At times, Jean Beauvoir's vocals sound like he's been transported back to 1994, delivering some top notch vocals, with a higher register in parts, and an aggression that turns from lyrical beast to heartfelt attraction from song to song.
The guitar work of Micki Free is bluesy, yet melodic, with a fantastic tone, not too dissimilar to the classic Crown of Thorns debut. His solos are classy without going extreme, and fit the style of the album like a glove.
Beauvoir/Free is a showpiece that brings the classic sound of Crown of Thorns mixed with a more bluesy tone that encompasses true melodic rock, not only in its attitude, but in its delivery as well. For fans of Jean and Micki's previous work, there is certainly something new to find on "American Trash".
From the opening riff of "Angels Cry", the foot is down on the throat and pressing hard. The bluesy guitar Armageddon bursts through the speakers with an unrelenting force before kicking into high gear once the drums and thumping bass line enters the equation. The lead vocal of Jean Beauvoir in those opening verses have just enough angst to take you back to the debut with an energy that's infectious. The song is certainly built around that magnificent riff, and Micki's tone is fantastic. "Angels Cry" bleeds attitude, and the fist pumping rhythm will keep you energized. It's interesting how the track almost has two bridges before delving into a lower range orchestrated chorus. The guitar solo rocks this song from side to side, showcasing the melodic prowess of Micki. Just when you thought it had reached its climax, you get hit with that infectious bass line and some cool laid back keyboards, taking you back to some great ad-libbing by Jean. The song never loses its aim towards the target.
"Morning After" is probably the closest song I've heard Jean do to the Crown of Thorns "Breakthrough" release. Once again the song is built around a bluesy mid tempo guitar riff, which oozes just enough sleaze, before a bass line once again is playing a prominent part. The verses are dark, almost brooding, leading into a more melodic chorus, driven by an acoustic guitar harmonizing a mellower feel. Micki hits us with a little guitar solo before heading back into the verses. The rhythm section before the solo is to die for, with a really cool key change being a highlight. The solo by Free is heartfelt, generating radiance in perfect sync with the backing keyboards. He takes us out of the song with more melodic playing, accompanied with some great vocal ad-lib by Jean.
The bluesy opening chord of "American Trash" tells you this is one of those songs built on attitude and angst. When that kick drum enters the fray, it's like a hammer to a nail pounding inside your head, unrelenting in its pleasure. Once Jean's vocals hit the ear drums, you know you are in for a full on assault of pure escapism. A simple first up chorus prepares us for the bass and drums kicking in to take the song to an extreme level. Lyrically, Jean is talking about a stripper named Little D. I love the drum ride crashing throughout the chorus. A typical Beauvoir bridge brooding with orchestration leads back to that riff, followed by a cool solo by Micki, sharing the limelight somewhat with that driving bass line. This song, though short, gets the attention of the listener with its simplistic yet effective style. Although the chorus is not one of those big arena sing-a-longs, it never loses sight of its intention, and that is to play second fiddle to an aggressive guitar riff that oozes class, is obviously the showpiece of a really cool title track.
"Whiplash" is built around a cool guitar riff with a lower register vocal from Jean. Once the bass line begins its rumble, it takes us to a chorus that runs the lines and gets that foot tapping. I love the crash used once again in the chorus. The 70's sounding guitar part before the chorus is very cool, and once Micki hits that solo and the ride is prominent again, the song really takes off, giving us a more noticeable Crown of Thorns sound. "Whiplash" proves you don't always need a big chorus, as long as you have a melody that runs alongside a riff that is memorable.
Once the piano comes in to bring the spotlight on "Just Breathe", you have that feeling that you're about to hear something special. From the opening lines, this song took me back to the first time I heard "Standing on the Corner for ya" from the Crown of Thorns debut. This song is so heartfelt; it would melt the chains around any heart. Lyrically, and vocally Jean is at the top of his game here. His delivery is strong, passionate, and without being sugary, giving this song a bleeding heart, and a much needed hand of faith. The production is top notch, with the orchestration taking the listener on a journey to musical bliss. I love how the music takes on a slightly darker tone leading into the solo, showing a rollercoaster of emotions. Free really shines on this song, playing the melody perfectly, delivering a memorable solo without taking over the songs feel. I love how the song cuts back to the piano before a cool Jean falsetto finishes the song on a high. The song is of Beauvoir's best ballads.
The fist pumping "Shotgun to the Heart" sounds like it could've come off any Crown of Thorns album of the past, and that's not a bad thing. Its ass kicking with verses that get those fists in the air and a bridge that rumbles past you like a freight train. Unlike a few on the album, this is one of those choruses that you can't get out of your head and will have you singing for days. This song bleeds attitude. It's unrelenting with great musicianship and a strong Beauvoir vocal. I love Micki's solo over that rumbling riff, and how he lets it continue over the rhythm of the bridge is a highlight. The song doesn't break any stride from start to finish, and through its consistency, delivers a must have in any Beauvoir set list.
"Never Too Late" is a mid tempo acoustic driven track with a great clean vocal from Jean that tells the story of being down but never giving up. It's a truly feel good song that almost has a certain reminisce about it. You can hear the feelings that Jean portrays in his vocal, and the "Yeah Yeah Yeah" throughout the chorus just gives this song a flavour that is sweet to the taste. Micki's solo is simplistic, backed by some cool orchestration, and I love how he hangs on that last note, cutting back to the acoustic guitar and the "Yeah Yeah Yeah's". Free brings another solo to lead out the song.
"Cold Dark December" brings a darker side to Beauvoir/Free, with a heavy driven riff. My first thoughts in hearing the song kick in, was that of the Crown of Thorns album "Destiny Unknown", and how I could easily see this song on that release. The brooding tones of the verse riff leads into a mellower chorus. This style of guitar riff suits the attitude that Jean brings with his vocal melodies, and works well with the track order of "American Trash". A couple of vocal effects take this song into more modern territory, but that melodic chorus should keep fans pleased.
"It's Never Too Late" brings us back to that original sound that fans are accustomed too, embracing a feel good sing a long chorus, and a riff that fits perfectly alongside a bass line that keeps those feet tapping. Jean certainly knows how to write a melody, and this song could've easily made its way onto any Crown of Thorns release. Not too dissimilar to his Crown of Thorns song "Heaven Tonight" off the Destiny Unknown album, this song is pure AOR in its feel and its orchestration. A very cool solo takes the listener into a short keyboard backing before hitting that memorable chorus again taking the song out.
There's a little hint of the Ramones in the feel of "She's A KO". Jean sings in a lower register giving it the ideal tone to go with that driving rhythm section. Another cool 70's riff takes this song back in time, yet staying modern and never sounding dated. Jean is sounding cool here, giving it the feel it deserves. Even though the chorus is nothing new, the song is genuinely built around an attitude, and a feel of a Ramones era, which I think he nails. A heavy riff leads into a very angst Micki solo kicking ass and giving the song more ear candy. Unfortunately the awesome backing vocals leading the chorus out isn't showcased enough for mine, but no doubt finishing the song off well.
"There's No Starting Over" kicks off with a very cool opening riff, 70's in its vibe, and a bit KISS like in its sound. Jean's vocals kicks in along the driving bass line and drums leading into slight time changes before going into a feel good chorus. The riff kicks the song back into high gear for verse two, and Jean continues his storytelling. The mid section leading into the riff is very different from Jean and Micki, and really adds an element to a song that is an ideal ending to the album. Free gets to shine one last time, leading the song to its end.
American Trash is an album that showcases the talents of two musicians who obviously have chemistry and a vision when it comes to song writing. American Trash sounds modern, current, yet doesn't leave the melody on the backburner, instead bringing it to the forefront. Beauvoir/Free delivers an album of listening pleasure, guaranteed to please fans of their previous works, and melodic rock music in general.