Formerly members of classic hard rock bands Night Ranger, Styx and Damn Yankees, Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades outline the music that inspired them to pick up a guitar on Influence, their first album since the pair’s 1995 effort, Hallucination.
Like that album, Influence showcases the duo’s softer side, with organic production values and copious amounts of acoustic guitar the order of the day. Tackling standards such as Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘The Sound of Silence’ could have been a disastrous plan — is there really a need for another cover of “California Dreamin'”? — but for the most part, Shaw-Blades offer interesting variations on the originals.
New life is breathed into “Your Move,” originally by Yes, while The Hollies’ “On a Carousel” is one of the standout tracks and “Summer Breeze” is injected with the laid-back California vibe that characterizes the majority of this record.
Fans of Shaw-Blades’ earlier work will be disappointed to note that there is hardly a widdly-widdly guitar solo in sight, but for anyone of a slightly nostalgic hue who wants to hear a fresh take on some classic material, Influence certainly delivers.