Born for This Moment

Chicago

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Born for This Moment Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

The last time Chicago released a proper studio album, all the way back 2014, vocalist/guitarist Neil Donell wasn't part of the band. Donell, who stepped into the shoes initially left empty by Jason Scheff but briefly filled by Jeff Coffey, is a legitimate presence on Born for This Moment, taking the lead on over half of the songs on this 2022 album. He doesn't quite sound like Peter Cetera, but he fills that role amiably, even if the sound of Born for This Moment adheres closer to the slick adult contemporary of the Bill Champlin era. This thick studio gloss is not uncommon to latter-day Chicago, and the group do take pains to nod at their earlier, punchier material, along with the hazily focused soft rock of the early '80s, while still taking the time to get a little funky. On such jazz-funk workouts as "Crazy Idea" and, especially, the cornball single "Firecracker" with its "foxy little heart attacker" refrain, Chicago sounds nearly mummified in its attitude and aesthetic, whereas the gentler ballads and sunny pop tunes, like "If This Is Goodbye," are salvaged by their pro polish; they're echoes of previous, better Chicago tunes, but they're still pleasingly executed. It may be a relief to hear the soft rock side of Chicago on Born for This Moment, yet these moments also illustrate the record's Achilles' heel: it's an album that attempts to give every kind of Chicago fan a little bit of what they want, which ultimately means that it's a lot to absorb in one sitting.

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