Fiona – Unbroken (Life on the Moon / Retrospect records)
It’s been a very long time since I have awaited an album’s arrival with such joyful anticipation – Rush’s Power Windows album (some of which I inadvertently heard being rehearsed) probably being the last occasion, back in ’85.
Coincidentally, 1985 was also the year that a certain young lady from New Jersey first came to my attention. The centrefold of Kerrang! #92 from April of that year introduced her as Fiona Flanagan – and on the strength of that article I purchased her debut album and instantly became a fan.
It’s still hard to believe that almost 20 years have passed since Fiona’s last release – the quite magnificent “Squeeze” from April 1992 – but Unbroken presents an almost seamless continuation. Its roots, to some extent, remain in the ‘80’s, but this is clearly feel-good, melodic rock that does not sound at all dated. Fiona’s collaboration with Robin Beck’s backroom team, as well as some other well-known writers and musicians, has proved to be a masterstroke in creating a wonderful comeback.
From its boisterous, radio-friendly opening number “Loved Along the Way” (which in old money would surely have been the lead single) through to the soaring power ballad “Everything You Are” that rounds things off, every song is an absolute winner. James Christian’s production is simply first class, the musicianship is fantastic and Fiona’s vocals are stronger than ever!
Other notable gems include the lively “Broken; a solid rendition of the Pat Benatar standard “Shadows of the Night”; a rousing anthem in “Badge of Love”; the good humoured “I Love You but Shut Up!” and the mighty fine Fiona / Robin Beck duet, “This Heart”.
I understand that fan power played a significant part in inspiring Fiona to record some new music. With product this good, I sincerely hope that Unbroken signals a new dawn, and that this talented and very endearing lady will continue to delight us with many more releases.
This review was slightly delayed until my signed and personally dedicated copy of the CD had arrived from the US, but it was absolutely worth waiting for. Unbroken totally exceeded my expectations and enabled me, after so many years, to rekindle my love affair with the girl from New Jersey.
Fiona is most definitely back – and better than ever! Let the good times roll!