Jack Blades

Jack Blades

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Multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and former Night Ranger and Damn Yankee Jack Blades has had a lucrative post-'80s career. A capable tunesmith in the industry, Blades has penned material for Aerosmith, Roger Daltrey, and Cher, as well as a reunited Night Ranger and a record with frequent collaborator Tommy Shaw. A great many aging rockers put out solo albums for all the wrong reasons -- money, midlife crisis, a misguided sentiment of fan obligation -- but a select few do it simply for the love of music. Jack Blades belongs in the latter category, and the 11 surprisingly solid tracks on his self-titled debut are a welcome surprise. Opening with the bright, melodic "Shine On," Blades unleashes an arsenal of hair metal soldiers -- Shaw, Neal Schon, Great White's Michael Lardie, Warren DeMartini of Ratt, and his former Night Ranger cohorts Kelly Keagy, Brad Gillis, and Jeff Watson -- to flesh out brutal rockers ("We Are the Ones"), power ballads ("Alone Tonight"), and rock anthems ("To Touch the Sky") with supreme pop/rock acumen. Schon is instantly recognizable on the opening notes of "Sea of Emotions," and Blades does a convincing Steve Perry on a track that wouldn't have seemed out of place on Journey's Escape. However, the veteran's not content with simply re-creating his heydays. "Sometimes You Gotta Have Faith" utilizes the sunny bounce of Sublime, while the beautiful "Breaking It Down," co-written with son Colin, could've been an ELO song. The Beatlesque leanings and acoustic arrangements lend themselves well to his voice, and his harmonies with Shaw are syrupy sweet. Blades has crafted a record without pretension, star-crossed ambition, or irony, and that alone is worth paying attention to. While by no means groundbreaking or spectacular, Jack Blades is a mirror image of its creator -- tenacious, capable, and enamored with all things musical.

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