Twenty something years ago, I slavishly bought and read the English magazine Metal Hammer, cover to cover. I remember that they quite often featured a band called Romeo’s Daughter, a band that puzzles me to this day. Maybe not the band themselves, but the way I viewed them. First, I always thought that the name Romeo’s Daughter was really cool. They also had a gorgeous chick (pardon my slightly sexist expression here, but I’m being 22 again…) as their singer, a girl named Leigh Matty whose picture I couldn’t stop looking at. Then they managed to get producer Mutt Lange (Def Leppard, AC/DC, Foreigner, Nickelback, Bryan Adams) to produce their self titled debut album that arrived in 1988. Now, I love Def Leppard, always has, and if you consider all the reasons I just wrote, why in bloody hell, didn’t I bother to check the band out back then? I mean, I have always been somewhat a nerd when it comes to check new bands out – I spent my entire youth doing so. And I still do, I might add. So, why did Romeo’s Daughter fall out on the side? I have no idea what so ever, but sometimes those things just happen, I guess. I have since then checked out both that album and the follow-up, 1993’s Delectable. When I did so, another question was raised. Why on earth didn’t Romeo’s Daughter make it big? Ok, so, hearing those albums as a middle-aged dude for the first, some 20 years after its releases, didn’t make them my favourite albums, but I know – I know – that if I had checked their debut album out back in 1988, I would have loved it and that means that I probably still would have loved it today. Because that album was perfect in 1988. The songs, the production, the arrangements – everything. The follow-up was actually even better, but it was released too late, in 1993 AOR and melodic rock breathed their last sighs and depressive and boring grunge had destroyed anything connected to fun. Which means that bands like Romeo’s Daughter couldn’t even get arrested. But Romeo’s Daughter should have been huge by then, had we lived in a fair world. I also totally missed out on their reunion album Rapture from 2012. In fact, I didn’t even know they had reunited until I was asked to write a review of this, their new album Spin. Before going through the album, I can’t state that Romeo’s Daughter is still a really great name, Leigh Matty is still gorgeous, but she’s a woman now, not a girl and after the first spin (sic!), it’s clear that in a world that has given AOR and melodic rock a new chance with lots of new fans, both young and old, Romeo’s Daughter’s music is perfect for 2015, just as it was back in the late 80’s.
Without any expectations and with an open mind, I push play and let opening track “Touch” break loose. And I’m not blown away. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good song, but it has a mellow groove, too mellow for an opening track. It has a Simple Minds vibe, if you consider them in their more AOR moments. This song would have worked better in the middle of the track list instead. “Already Gone”, on the other hand, is brilliant. It’s an 80’s pop rocker, in the vein of the likes of Robin Beck and / or Fiona. The melodies are really catchy, both in verses and in the refrain and the hooks are all killer. The chorus is extremely catchy and this is a hit single in my book. The same can be said about “Love Will Come To Those Who Wait”, an uptempo power ballad, the way it was done in the late 80’s / early 90’s. I’m a sucker for a well written power ballad which implies to this one. Awesome! And they keep the killers coming, “Enemy” is a magnificent pop rocker that makes me think of Def Leppard’s Hysteria (1987) album, “Didn’t See It Coming” is a pop / West Coast ballad that has a big chunk of Don Henley’s “Boys Of Summer” in it and “Radio”, a great pop rocker with a touch of summer all over it and I can almost feel the wind blowing through my hair (eeeh… waaaait a minute… hair…?) while driving in my car with the top lift down. “Tonight” has a title that should result in a fine if it is ever used again, but despite the unoriginal title, it’s a damn fine song. It’s an acoustic guitar based ballad, very AOR and it’s a really good one. “All Because Of You” is extremely catchy and this uptempo pop / West Coast number really should be considered a single. “Perfect Plan” is great also. If they would have given that song to Fiona it would have been Fiona’s best song ever. They end the album brilliantly with “Tall Buildings”, AOR at its best. Catchy as hell, this is one of the best track on the album and it only makes you want to push play all over again. Well done!
This album turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. Nothing new under the sun, but this is very well made and I can’t imagine any AOR lover wanting to be without this one. On the “negative” side, the production is a bit thin and I would have loved the guitars and drums fatter and higher in the mix. The musicians are faultless and Matty’s voice is plain astonishing. A broad range and powerful with both attitude and sweetness – and let’s not forget, a sound of her own. In AOR, a voice with your own identity is pivotal for making an album in this genre to stand out. Many are the records with good songs that falters because of their lack of identity. That doesn’t happen on this album. I guess my next task is to go back to Romeo’s Daughter’s earlier albums and give them another go – and to listen to their reunion album for the first time. Good job, lady and gentlemen!
Jon Wilmenius (8/10)
2. Already Gone
3. Love Will Come To Those Who Wait
5. Didn’t See It Coming
8. All Because Of You
9. Perfect Plan
10. Tall Buildings