James LaBrie - “Beautiful Shade Of Grey” Review

dream theater singer

Is it bad to say that if I have to choose between this new album by James LaBrie “Beautiful Shade Of Grey” and the latest Dream theater, A view from the top of the world (click for the video review), I would probably choose the one from James LaBrie? If there is something that I can't find inspired in the last part of the Dream Theater's career is the vocals, in my opinion not very central anymore in the songwriting. Well, in this Beautiful Shade Of Grey we go back in time and we find songs built around vocals (well, obviously) and also the relaxed mood of the old solo albums by James and specifically when the project was called Mullmuzzler (I really like those albums!)

Some of the tracks in this brand new release could be parts of those two, like the first two singles: the opener Devil in drag (great chorus and very catchy vocal lines) and Give and take, with a superb arrangement and a great guitar solo. Other tracks I enjoyed, in particular, are the dynamic Hit me like a brick,  the melodic Am I right and the Led Zeppelin cover, Ramble on, with a spot-on performance by James. Also, a little curiosity here, Am I Right features vocals from Theresa Thomason, who you may remember from The Spirit Carries On (from my beloved album Scenes from a memory, Dream Theater, of course.)

The musicians are top quality in this record and we find again in the James' band the always inspired and technical guitars by the Italian Marco Sfogli. In the Mullmuzzler project Mike Mangini was behind the drums, here we've got Jame's son, Chance LaBrie, (we are getting old...) who does a really good job. 

What do I like about this album? Melody and good vocal lines. Exactly what I missed from the last two albums by Dream Theater. “Beautiful Shade Of Grey” is not a masterpiece but very enjoyable and with a very good performance by James and his band. If you enjoyed the first two solo albums of James' career, give this one a go, you will like it.

Rating: 68/100
Top tracks: Devil In Drag, Give And Take, Hit Me Like A Brick.

James LaBrie – Lead & Backing Vocals 
Paul Logue – Acoustic Guitars & Bass 
Chance LaBrie – Drums & Percussion 
Christian “Chrism” Pulkkinen – Keyboards 
Marco Sfogli – Lead Acoustic & Electric Guitars 

1 Devil In Drag 
2 SuperNova Girl 
3 Give And Take  
4 Sunset Ruin 
5 Hit Me Like A Brick 
6 Wildflower 
7 Conscience Calling 
8 What I Missed 
9 Am I Right 
10 Ramble On 
11 Devil In Drag Electric Version 

Giovanni Gagliano

Passionate about music I wrote my first article for "Given To Rock" in 2012, reaching now 30K global followers. I am also a musician, gigging around London.

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