Ted Poley – Beyond the Fade
Label: Frontiers srl
Release Date: May 13, 2016
One of the 80s best young hard rock/hair metal acts was the wildly underrated Danger Danger. The band’s first two albums were so completely infectious and buoyant that you couldn’t pry the melodies from your head without the jaws of life. One of the essential ingredients to the band’s addictive success was the voice of Ted Poley. So many voices in heavy music these days are generic, but Poley stands among perhaps a dozen or so notable singers whose voice cannot be confused with anyone else’s. His style, sound, and intonation simply set him apart, and his generally happy-go-lucky demeanor makes him a hard voice to ignore. And really, who wants to? This spring Ted Poley returns with his third solo album, Beyond the Fade, his first in nearly a decade.
Helping Poley out for the new record is Alessandro Del Vecchio (Hardline, Jorn, Voodoo Circle) who handles drums and keyboards on the album, as well as tossing in his notable production skills for good measure. Brothers Tom and James Martin of Vega penned the album’s 11 tracks, which are a collection of AOR/melodic hard rock ear candy: A mix that Poley’s unique vocals bring to life as only he can.
The end result on Beyond the Fade is a highly melodic and enjoyable record packed with big hooks, soaring vocals, and stellar individual performances. For Poley’s longtime fans it might best be described as Danger Danger light; the magical sing-along choruses and addictive rhythms are all there, the only thing that is missing is some of that D2 edge. Something that can be found missing right from the opening track, “Let’s Start Something”: The song kicks off with a nice rock groove, and Poley’s vocals immediately sell the melody. It’s a strong tune, reminds me of Journey, but the guitars are sacrificed too much in the mix, as if Del Vecchio is trying to make a pop album rather than a hard rock record. It’s that missing crunch in the riffing and rhythms that keeps this from being a stronger song, and ultimately a heavier album.
This is to take nothing away from the fantastic performances of guitarist Mario Percudani and bassist Anna Portalupi, who both deliver excellent performances on this record. I would argue that they are victims of the mix on certain tracks where they could have been punched up to add muscle to some of the tracks.
Norwegian vocalist Issa, duets with Poley on the semi-ballad “The Perfect Crime” and former Rainbow and current Sunstorm vocalist Joe Lynn Turner adds his songwriting chops to the track, “Hands of Love”. “Stars” is a highly accessible track that sounds (again) like something Journey might write. Poley’s voice takes on a grit we don’t often hear from him, which adds some depth and personality to the track.
One of the album’s stand-out songs is the high energy rocker “Higher” which could have fallen off any Poley era D2 album. It is exactly the kind of song the band blended in between their heavier songs—a feel good fists in the air, romp.
One of the strongest elements of Beyond the Fade are the layered harmony and backing vocals that really elevate tracks like “Everything We Are” and “We Are Young”–well almost every song on the album. When you have a voice as distinct as Poley’s, who want to make the most of that magical aspect, and it is one of the record’s best features.
Poley steps away from his upbeat rhythm for the more emotive “You Won’t See Me Cryin'” and it keeps the tempo slower for heartbreak ballad, “We Are Young”. The tempo picks back up for the bouncy vibe of “Sirens”. The album winds down in a wave of rolling piano and melancholy ache on the final track, “Beneath the Stars”.
With Beyond the Fade, Ted Poley has delivered an album packed with solid AOR/melodic rock ear candy and served up with his ever-upbeat personality. It is not as heavy and doesn’t have quite the swagger of his Danger Danger work, but it remains per Poley, and is exactly the type of record Poley fans have come to love and expect. If you miss big melodies, soaring vocals, and catchy sing-along rock songs, this is an album to own.