Chez Kane will likely be a new name to many, but she has been singing with her sisters in the excellent Kane’d for many years. With her solo album, she has an opportunity to shine on her own and definitely makes the most of the opportunity. Kane clearly loves the music of the 80’s as evidenced by her work here and with Kane’d. If you have watched any of her YouTube videos where she covers old songs, you already know that she has a killer voice. If you are not a fan of 80’s hard rock and have no interest in it, this is probably not the album for you. For the rest of us, this is sonic gold.
Kane kicks off the album with the excellent ‘Better Than Love’ which introduces itself with a bunch of keyboards that remind me a bit of Shy in their ‘Excess All Areas’ phase. The music in the verses takes a back seat for Kane’s vocals which are excellent and just hit me in the right ways with the inflections she uses and how she hits every note. The horns in this song are a surprise at first, but they complement the song nicely. ‘All of It’ follows and the beginning actually brings to mind Meat Loaf’s ‘Life is a Lemon and I Want My Money Back’ with the way the opening vocal and music are done. This one has a bit more grit than the opener, but it is still firmly in AOR territory. At this point, this is the song that has grabbed me the least. I don’t consider it a bad song, but it is probably my runt amongst these ten songs.
‘Rocket on the Radio’ would have been in constant rotation on Dial MTV back in the day and is one of my favorites from the record. Kane delivers a killer vocal, and the hook is huge while not being placed too high above the music in the mix. In some ways, it is almost a combination of Lita Ford, Slippery era Bon Jovi, and 80’s Heart, but Kane always has her own individuality in the music too. The guitar solo will have the listener breaking out the air guitar too. ‘Get it On’ begins with a huge chorus of melodic voices and gives way to a clever guitar riff that is supported by some funky bass and keyboards. When the next chorus comes in after the first verse, it leaps right out of the speakers. Kane hits some higher notes here that really showcase her range. Wrapping up the first half of the album is ‘Too Late for Love’ where I am reminded of Honeymoon Suite. There are hints and moments of others here as well with the keyboards providing a debt to the 80’s. In terms of current bands, I would reference the likes of Midnite City and The Defiants.
Kicking off the second half of the album, ‘Defender of the Heart’ carries a power to it with its midtempo beat giving it the feel of an epic. Kane’s vocals here are awesome and given it a chance to shine without her trying to artificially create those moments. There is a purity to it in that she has a great set of songs here, and her voice has a magical quality to my ears. ‘Ball N’ Chain’ might be the first time where I really hear the influence of Crazy Lixx whose Danny Rexon brought Kane to the attention of Frontiers and who I believe wrote the songs here. This is another song that I was singing part of the chorus before my first listen was done. Hard rocker ‘Midnight Rendezvous’ follows with Kane channeling some attitude with this up tempo rocker leaping out of the speakers. This song would have likely been “too heavy” back in the day to be a single but still feels very AOR today. The subtle ‘here comes trouble’ refrain in the chorus adds a cool touch as well with the echo of the vocal on the end seeming to be a nod to Def Leppard.
Keyboards also usher in the beginning of ‘Die in the Name of Love,’ and I would really enjoy seeing this song be a video or single from the album. The backing vocals are big here and serve as an excellent counterpoint to Kane’s lines. If you told me this song was featured on an 80’s soundtrack, I would not be surprised as it just seems like it should have a visual attachment in my brain. Closer ‘Dead End Street’ is the longest song on the album and reminds me of a relatively recent album by LaValle as the song carries some extra weight even with the keyboards. The chorus is much more subdued than the other songs on the album with the keyboard run after the first chorus establishing itself as a hook. The guitar solo is exquisite here as nothing feels rushed at all in the song.
Chez Kane has released an album that stands apart from her work with Kane’d. While there are some common influences, this album definitely feels glossier in terms of the production and the keyboards. There is a fine line where that can go very wrong, but it works to the positive here. Kane has released a solo album that really feels like a true reflection of her based on the covers she will put on YouTube. If you want a gritty rock album, this one is not going to be for you. If you have ever liked any 80’s hard rock songs, I highly recommend this album. I am a huge fan of Kane’s vocals and really like the collection of songs here that come together as an actual album and not just a collection of random songs.
‘Chez Kane’ is released March 12th
Author: Gerald Stansbury