Work of Art – Framework
Frontiers Records – 2014
If you mixed the absolute best qualities of German melodic hard rock band Craaft, Night Ranger, Survivor, Heart and Richard Marx on his more rocking side, it would give you a good description of this AOR band.
It’s rare that I get an album that works from top to bottom but that is the case with the tremendously catchy latest release from Swedish power trio Work of Art. I had never heard their previous two albums, so I was unexpectedly floored by the infectious melody this group generates.
The open air audio space of “Time to Let Go” made me think of Saga on their best day and the positivity of this first track made me immediately like this CD. It’s stunning how the vocals, guitar, keyboard, bass and drums work together for the same harmonious purpose. I was hooked from the get go. It’s always great to hear fantastic lead guitar in this kind of setting and Robert Sall blazes a ripping trail without veering off the melodious pathway the band had already set up.
I like the dramatic instrumental push of “How Will I Know.” Lars Säfsund’s vocals are honestly flawless in every song, but try not singing along with him in this second tune. He’s got it all going, range, vocal infliction, emotional connection and best of all it sounds like he has fun performing it.
The clean guitar in “Shout ‘Till You Wake Up” is a tone I miss hearing in today’s music that was so prevalent back in the ‘80s. Some of the riffs and instrumental touches in this tune reminded me of Toto.
The keyboard/piano taking the lead was cool way to go.
The fourth track’s title “Can’t Let Go” best describes how the vocal hook imbeds into you while listening to this tune. The instrumental play is very bright and exudes upbeat energy that there’s no way not to enjoy.
It’s really fun visualizing the words sung in “How Do You Sleep At Night?” Säfsund’s vocals are so well done that they create images like a music video does. It’s fascinating listening to the story being told and through it’s something you wouldn’t like to happen to you, it doesn’t matter because the song grabs a hold and doesn’t release its hook.
The clean guitar is sumptuous in “Over the Line.” The drumbeat of this song is wonderfully played to go along with the song’s melody and really picks things up. I couldn’t help but notice how the background vocals are masterfully integrated to go along with Säfsund’s lead voice.
The harder charging guitar in “The Machine” is a very good thing. For some reason the guitar sound in this track makes me think of the underrated British band Airrace back in the 1980s.
“Hold On to Love” is a real gentle song. The funky guitar rhythm mid-way through is good to spice the song up a bit so it’s not too sappy.
“Natalie” is a keeper. The keyboard line really sets the more aggressive tone, which the drums and guitar follow. Vocalist Lars Säfsund is sensational giving out his heart and soul. The bass in this song is important because it enforces the song with strength needed to make it really work. Robert Sall’s guitar solo is beautiful and shows his tremendous grasp of the instrument.
For some reason, though it’s not Southwestern based sound, there’s something about “The Turning Point” reminds me of .38 special. There’s a relaxed quality about this tune that makes it more pop than hard rock.
This last song, “My Waking Dream” features clean guitar and keyboard beginning to take you to audio paradise.
Work of Art delivers an uncompromising approach in Framework which attains a collective gathering of notes that should please every listener out there. I think the band can take the guitars even further into heaviness that would broaden their sound even more. Not having heard where they came from I don’t know the progression they have made. What I do know is that this is band is exceptional at what they do and deserve your listening ear.