STEVEN TYLER – We’re All Somebody From Somewhere

Steven-Tyler-Were-All-Somebody-From-SomewhereHere’s a dude who needs no introduction. If you read this and feel like you need to be told who he is, you haven’t only been living under a rock for the last 40 years, you are probably still living there. That’s the only info I will write about mr Steven Tallarico. This solo album has been a really long time coming, I don’t remember exactly when it was first outed that Tyler was about to release a solo album but it must have been a year or so since that happened. A single (at least I think it was one), “I Make My Own Sunshine” has been out for quite some time now (more on that later) but the release of the album sure took its time. In later years, the Aerosmith situation has been turbulent – to put things mildly – and there was even talk of the rest of the band looking for another singer to tour with (Lenny Kravitz, Sammy Hagar and even Sebastian Bach were mentioned as a replacement), but that never happened. Of course, there is no way in Hell that Aerosmith would work without Tyler, that guy is irreplaceable, but there sure were cracks in the Aerosmith camp. Tyler seemed to have lost interest in moving forward with his band and except for shorter tours (they played Sweden Rock Festival in 2007 and 2010), nothing really happened with the band between 2004 and 2012 when the band finally released their latest – and very underrated – album Songs From Another Dimension. One of the reasons for that down time was that Tyler wanted to establish his brand, the brand “Steven Tyler” and he was involved in nonsense like sitting in the jury for American Idol with Jennifer Lopez among others. My guess is that this solo album is another way of establishing that brand. The talk on the streets was that Tyler would record a country album, some of those vibes were brought to some of the songs on Music From Another Dimension, so I guess that information wasn’t far-fetched at all. Country isn’t really a genre that makes me go bonkers so I was hoping that the country talk was highly exaggerated, but never the less, Tyler IS a brand of his own and a legend so a solo album by him is something to be curious of, no matter what genre it runs in and there’s no chance I ‘d look the other way.

“My Own Worst Enemy” that opens the album is a stripped ballad that has a country flavored early 70’s Rolling Stones vibe, but when the last minute or so kicks in, the song gets heavier and his Aerosmith past shows up. It’s a good song, although not breathtaking. The title track follows and even though it leans towards Aerosmith, this blues and soul stuffed groover is hardly a hard rock song. The chorus even gets a toe into hip-hop territory but it’s not what the song is based on. This one I do like. “Hold on (Won’t Let Go)” is a somewhat distorted old-time blues tune. It has a pretty rough groove but the drum machine takes the edge off a bit. Still, I can’t help but to like it. “It Ain’t Easy” is the kind of sugar-coated power ballad that Aerosmith has done to death, with the exception that this one comes with a huge chunk of country – fiddles, mandolin and pedal steel. Now, I’m as big a sucker for the late 80*s /early 90’s Aeroballads as the next guy / girl, but Aerosmith totally lost the plot on their ballads on their later records and I’m just not that big on country music, so this is one tune I can live without. Latest single “Love Is Your Name”, however, is a song I found myself actually digging, despite all its cheesiness. It’s a midtempo ballad where there are some big country vibes, the steel guitar stands for most of those vibes, but mostly it’s a pop-country song, Billy Ray Cyrus style. “I Make My Own Sunshine” is pretty horrendous – it’s a happy-go-lucky pop song, based on acoustic guitars and a ukulele and quite frankly, it feels really ridiculous. I have heard it on the radio long before the release of this album (although I’m not a 100% sure that it was a single, despite of what I wrote in my introduction), but if it was a single, it never became a hit – and there is a good reason for that! “Gypsy Girl” is a groove ridden pop-ballad and a typical “in the middle of the album” song. It has a nice melody and all, but it doesn’t go anywhere and is soon forgotten. The same can be said of “Somebody New”. It is contemporary pop country, way too mainstream for me and if it wasn’t for Tyler’s voice this could be just about anybody out there.

“Only Heaven” is an arena rock ballad that leans towards AOR and to me it sounds like a marriage of Aerosmith and Bon Jovi and yes, I quite like it. It does not floor me, but I like it. “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly And Me” is a nice little pop rocker and it sports a bit of blues and it swings pretty well. I wouldn’t call it great so I’ll settle for good enough. “Red, White And You” is surely aimed at radio and it do comes with a summer feel. The song is catchy as Hell and you’ll be singing along to this tune no matter if you like it or not. It must be a single because it has HIT! written all over it. “Sweet Louisiana” is an ok pop / country tune, complete with an accordion to cheese it up, but it’s really nothing special – in one ear and out the other. “What Am I Doin’ Right” is another country flavored power ballad, Aerosmith did a couple of those on their last album, and I really have hard time not to press the skip button. This kind of ballad wasn’t any good on Aerosmith’s last record and it isn’t any good here. Then we get a remake of Aerosmith’s old monster hit “Janie’s Got A Gun”. Oh my! See, it’s not actually bad – it’s really hard to make “Janie’s Got A Gun” bad – but it’s completely pointless. Even though this one is a bit more melancholic and rests more on acoustic guitars, it brings nothing of value to the table at all.  Tyler ends the album with yet another cover of Janis Joplin’s “Piece Of My Heart”. How imaginative! Tyler’s version lies really close to Joplin’s original – only with the addition of a fiddle and a mandolin, but it’s the same here – this version brings nothing new to the table.

Firstly, all the talk of Steven Tyler making a country record is really exaggerated. Sure, there are lots of country influences on this album and yes, some songs really are country, but as a whole, this is a pop record with country influences for fans of Billy Ray Cyrus, Garth Brooks and Tim McGraw – in other words, very mainstream and radio oriented. This is not to be confused with hardcore country artists like Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings or Willie Nelson. Secondly, it’s actually not all that great. Sure, there are some really good songs on it and Steven Tyler is at 68 still one of rock’s best vocalists, but the song writing leaves a whole lot to be desired, the production is too cheesy for comfort and there is way too many songs on here. On an album like this, ten or eleven is enough and songs like the unnecessary remake of “Janie’s Got A Gun” and the boring Joplin-cover should have been kept in the vaults. Next year sees the farewell tour of Aerosmith and although I totally get that the guys feels that enough is enough, listening to this album makes me hope that Aerosmith will break their break-up promise and keep on playing until they fall off the stage. Because I have no doubt in my mind that the rest of the guys will bring rock ‘n’ roll to the world after Aerosmith are dead and buried, my concern is that we will be fed albums like this from Tyler, when he really should keep on rocking. After all, the guy is an icon and one of the coolest rock stars / frontmen that has set foot on this planet.

5/10

Tracklist:

01.  My Own Worst Enemy
02. Were All Somebody From Somewhere
03. Hold On (Won’t Let Go)
04. It Ain’t Easy
05. Love Is Your Name
06. I Make My Own Sunshine
07. Gypsy Girl
08. Somebody New
09. Only Heaven
10. The Good, The Bad, The Ugly And Me
11. Red, White And You
12. Sweet Louisiana
13. What Am I Doin’ Right
14. Janie’s Got A Gun
15. Piece Of My Heart

Advertisements