I knew the musicianship & production would be top-notch-that Tony would never release something that wasn't high quality. I also knew it would be lyrically solid & structurally sound, and imagined there'd be at least a couple songs on it that I'd like a lot.
My main hesitancy toward it initially was in the fact that they'd decided to call themselves "The Wildflowers." See, I had also purchased Tony's 2010 album titled "Round Trip" by Tony Harnell & the Mercury Train-a much cooler band name I thought (that's a dynamite album too, by the way). "Wildflowers" made me think of Woodstock, flower children, and psychedelic folk music-it's just how my brain works, for better or worse. My trust in Tony Harnell's legacy reassured me, however, I got past it, and happily confirmed my pre-order.
When the autographed CD arrived a few weeks ago, I immediately appreciated the packaging and color scheme of the artwork. What I did NOT expect was to be blown away from the moment it entered my CD player and to have that continue through the entire album. I got numerous tingles down my spine (the good kind) on many tracks. I also didn't expect such intricately-layered vocal harmonies, though never for a second did I doubt Tony's ability to make them-just wasn't expecting it. Bumblefoot's guitar playing is of course mind-blowing, but that didn't surprise me in the least. I also didn't anticipate the natural chemistry that takes place between Bumblefoot's guitar & Tony's voice-truly they were made for each other (that's how it sounds & feels, anyway).
As to style and influences, this album-stripped-down & approachable as it is-is a complex tapestry, carefully woven together in a way that would have great Minerva nodding her approval. From the very Zeppelin-esque opening track "Paralized" (circa Zep III) to their fantastic cover of Queen's "Somebody To Love" to the tensely multi-dimensional "Devil Of A Healer" (one hell of a groove on that song, by the way) this album is quite a journey (space suit & com-link are optional). There is also an underlying classic R&B vibe in many places as well as moderate doses of what seems to smack of 1970's Laurel Canyon.
Of special note: I'm not a big blues guy, but I discovered on "Get Up Again" that when Bumblefoot & Tony Harnell play them it's a whole different animal-a beautiful, pleasurable, and comfy one that scratches & bites just enough. I absolutely LOVE the lyrics to "What If" which song also seems to me the most TNT-sounding song on the album (apart from the live acoustic version of "Child's Play" they've included).
It's very easy for me to give this album 5 stars, but impossible to pick a favorite song from it-depends on my mood and the day. The overall feeling I get from this album is that Tony Harnell has truly found his balance between legendary rock star & sophisticated adult-and is embracing the role quite happily-this can only bode well for the future! Hindsight being 20/20, it now seems to me that Mercury Train was a bridge-a transitional period-and that train has now reached its destination with The Wildflowers. We're glad to have him home. Yes, your life will be less awesome if you don't purchase this album.
I recommend following them on Twitter to keep posted and to learn more about them-they are all quite friendly and approachable and always happy to hear from you:
Also, complete lyrics & lots of other cool stuff is available at www.tonyharnell.com or you can click on either of the album pics I've posted. Always remember that #LoveRockPrevails Thank you for your time! ~ Kev oxox