John Cate's fourth album, his second with the John Cate Band, is a blend of roots rock and pure pop. "Mercy Road" kicks the album off with folk guitar, keys, and a bit of songwriting that is precise. One can't deny the appeal of the Eagles, but they were homogenized to the point where some of the songs felt like they were printed out of a computer. "Mercy Road" is a tune that radio fans wish the Eagles could've put together. "It's Over" is even better: a great hook, wonderful setup, and vocals that display the sadness a breakup always creates, no matter who was at fault. Cate comes across much better on record, his live performance for the release of this disc felt like the band was trying to re-create what is on the CD. "It's Over" is very much like the Swinging Steaks, a former Capricorn artist which tours with Cate on occasion. "No Other Place" is the kind of song we'd expect to hear from James Taylor if he were a few decades younger. Where Taylor went from Boston to London, John Cate was born in Liverpool, England, but was raised in the U.S. "Standin' Here Alone" feels like Traveling Wilburys without the Jeff Lynne production; very appealing. The harmonica and subdued vocal in "Ride Away" is a nice change before "Circles" shifts gears. This music isn't original, but drummer Gary Rzab, bassist Danny McGrath, and guitarist/keyboard/mandolin player Paul Candilore present a full sound behind Cate's voice and music. "Circles" gives Candilore a chance to sing lead, Rzab getting his opportunity on the next song, "Tears," a very McCartney/early-Beatles sounding piece. It's all very well constructed and played pop/folk/roots rock. These cats emulate their heroes, and the result is very listenable and very radio friendly. Cate's music has been utilized on the network television shows Touched By an Angel, All My Children, and The Young & the Restless, among others, and for good reason. His voice is tender on "Ain't the Same," and all the songs catch a good groove. Candilore is a more than adequate accompanist with his talents displayed on "Time Has Come," a very nice, laid-back song with mandolin and reverb guitar. A reflection of what is on the 12 tracks on this self-titled album.
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AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione