Shooting Star - Circles
There are still plenty of bands from the past clogging up the rock highway, searching for a route into the present.

A few of those bands are leaking oil and belching smoke, clearly making one last desperate effort before being shipped off to the knacker's yard.
Others seem to have been suspended in aspic all these years, and now scrub up sounding fresh and clean, older, wiser and still with something to say. Shooting Star are quite clearly in that latter category, though it hasn't been easy.

The vocalist is generally a key component of any band's signature sound. Once he's gone the band will never sound the same again.
And so it was with Shooting Star. Frontman, Keith Mitchell, decided to leave the band last year, during the recording of 'Circles'. For some bands such a loss would have been fatal, or at least, it would have signalled the beginning of the end.
Not so Van McLain and Shooting Star. The early recruitment of replacement, Kevin Chalfant, was bold and shrewd. At first, you would be inclined to think that Chalfant's association with classic melodic rock bands like 707 and The Storm would overshadow his tenure as Shooting Star's vocalist.

Far from it. Chalfant's voice has matured like a single malt. Sweet and smokey, slightly coarsened with age, but full of character. He's a valuable addition to the band, contributing passionate, articulate interpretations of Van McLain' songs.

The medium paced, melodic rock lite, 'Without Love' is probably one of the more immediate, accessible tracks, while 'Trouble In Paradise' and 'Temptation' have a real adult resonance. McLain's production is gives everybody room to participate and to shine. Dennis Laffoon's keyboards play a principal role in many of the songs, twinning up with or counterpointing McLain's alternatively chiming or strident lead guitar.

Surprisingly - or maybe not - Shane Michaels' violin is relegated to cameo appearances on most tracks here, climbing the billing to top spot only on 'We're Not Alone', a Kansas-esque track that comes late in the album's running order.

That said, album highlight by a considerable distance is the vaguely Foreigner like 'George's Song', a tribute to the late Beatle, George Harrison. There's a spiritual dimension and an emotional connection here that generate warmth for a solid five minutes. It is a beautiful and poignant song.

'Circles' is one classy album, from an enduringly classy band. Let's hope both get the attention they deserve.

Written by Brian
Friday, July 21, 2006
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Brian: 7.5/10

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Review by Brian

Released by
Frontiers (Europe) & Bubbaschmeg/Cowtown (USA) - 2006

1. Runaway
2. Without Love
3. Trouble In Paradise
4. George's Song
5. Borrowed Time
6. Everybody's Crazy
7. Temptation
8. I'm A Survivor
9. We're Not Alone
10. What Love Is

Melodic Rock

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