Richard Marx

Days in Avalon

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After a three-year hiatus and a break with his former record company, Richard Marx returns with his own label, Signal 21, and a new album, Days in Avalon. Continuing with the sound that made him a consistent hitmaker during the late '80s and early '90s, Marx does little wrong with this collection of pop/rock compositions, which -- as in the case of the country-styled ballad "Straight From My Heart," featuring the harmony vocals of Alison Krauss -- show the versatility of this often underappreciated vocalist. His ability to write upbeat, soulful, often moody, and always deeply personal material is still intact with tracks like the eerie "Shine," the acoustic guitar-driven "Almost Everything," and the blues-tinged "Too Early to Be Over," while his gift for storytelling remains as strong as ever with the solemn and disturbing social commentary "Boy Next Door," harkening back to his 1991 hit, "Hazard." With "The Edge of Forever," a duet with country singer Chely Wright, Marx proves he is still at the top of his game in writing power ballads destined for many a wedding reception, if only such songs could get airplay on airwaves that cater only to the newest new thing, while leaving substantial artists, like him, on an uneven and oftentimes unfair playing field. For the true fan, Days of Avalon does not disappoint. However, going beyond even his fan base, Marx has the ability to coax even the most jaded listener into losing themselves within his music. If worthwhile alternatives exist to the lackluster and noise-ridden material that deluges radio as the flavor of the moment, then Days in Avalon is certainly at the top of the list.

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