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TRACK LIST: 1. I Did It 3:18 2. You Are So Beautiful 4:51 3. Happiness 3:54 4. Full Body Contact 3:34 5. I'm Holding You Tight 3:24 6. Never Leave the Highway 3:40 7. Join the Opposite Party 3:43 8. I Need an Insurance 4:05 9. Happy Again 3:40 10. Be Careful 3:15 11. I'm Running 3:40 12. I Can Feel the Power of Your Love 4:26 13. Some Day You Will Hate Me 4:04 14. Oh Miguelita 2:28 LINEUP: Dirk Radloff – guitars, bass; synthesizers, programming; voice Tim Warweg – drums
Prolusion. The German outfit HEARTSCORE is first and foremost the creative vehicle of one Dirk Radloff, a composer and multi-instrumentalist who started releasing his compositions on CD back in 2003. "Touch Me" is the most recent of his exploits.
Analysis. I'm not overly familiar with the career of this one-man band, and first got acquainted with the project when reviewing the previous effort issued under this moniker, "Many Directions" from 2007 – a fairly quirky and experimental effort, where the major flaw were the vocals as far as I'm concerned. Compositionally this disc had a lot going for it and with a different vocalist it could have been a really interesting effort. On "Touch Me" Radloff mostly leaves the experimental excursions behind, instead opting to take on a much more mainstream-oriented direction. Melodic hard rock tunes with electronic overlays make the odd appearance here and there, but the emphasis is on easygoing pop tunes and occasional ballads. One of the particular traits adhering to mainstream music is that of being by and large vocals-dominated efforts. Lyrics aplenty to convey, and the lead vocals need to be of a very high quality to succeed with such creations, especially when we're dealing with ballads and lightweight pop songs. And in that area Radloff has a lot of improving to do I'm afraid. I'm probably amongst the more demanding of listeners to be satisfied in that area admittedly, but by and large this CD strengthens my impressions of Radloff as less than talented in that particular realm. While initially it would appear that he is off pitch, my better half tells me that this isn't actually the case, but that it frequently sounds like he is about to go off pitch and then doesn't. Add a distinct accent and you end up with a vocalist with a very special as well as specialized voice, which results in a disc of starkly underwhelming material to my ears. Crafting good songs in the pop rock vein is a challenge in itself and one that Radloff still needs to develop a bit, I think. Besides the odd vocals, the songs themselves tend to be less than memorable. Without a high-class vocalist to carry it, the music itself tends to become too repetitive, lacking in the finer features which manage to allow the songs yo maintain a high level of interest. Two tracks are slightly better than the rest in that context: Happiness, featuring a groove-laden enthralling bass line with bubbly organ and a nifty guitar motif that fits very well. And later on I'm Running, a nice, energetic pop effort with steady rhythms and a neat piano and synth motif that works rather well, with an inspired instrumental insert in the middle that was a welcome and positive surprise.
Conclusion. There's not much material to appeal to a progressive rock-interested audience on "Touch Me"; pop music and mainstream-oriented compositions are very much the order of the day. And in that particular context, if you find that you truly like Radloff's peculiar vocal style I can heartily recommend this album; if you don't you will be well-advised to stay away.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: March 11, 2011
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