Review: Chasing Violets – ‘Outside Heaven’
Female-fronted rock bands are not all that common, and a French band fronted by two women, like Chasing Violets, has to be almost unique. French sisters Sarah and Mélissa Fontaine, both of them singer-songwriters, are the faces, voices, and the heart and the soul of Chasing Violets, and on their debut album “Outside Heaven”, the musical muscle is provided by an experienced squad of musicians.
The band’s musical flavor is melodic rock and AOR, echoing with influences from classic bands like Toto, Chicago, and Heart. “Outside Heaven” has a sleek, polished sound with the glossy synths and some soaring, high-energy guitar-work giving it a nice 1980s throwback sound. What sets Chasing Violets apart though are those twinned female vocals. Melissa and Sarah Fontaine have smooth, almost soothing voices that give the music an ethereal sweetness and a softness that you don’t hear very often from a rock band.
Most of the tracks on “Outside Heaven” deal with passion, jealousy, love and loss, and there’s some goosebump-inducing work here if you have a weakness for silky vocals. The first half of the album feels the strongest, with the passionate “I Can’t Love No More” and “No Margin For Error” starting things off. “The Price To Pay is probably my favorite track on the album, with the sweetness of the female voices contrasting nicely with the rougher edge of the male vocals, and the spiky energy of the guitars. I also really like “Voices In The Wind”, with more great guitars flying high, and a dreamy vibe in the layered vocals.
Minor quibbles would be that the lyrics are occasionally a little paint-by-numbers and with 13 tracks, not all of them are standouts – perhaps some could have been trimmed to tighten up the album. Still, Outside Heaven is a solid debut album for Chasing Violets, and shows off the vocal talents of Melissa and Sarah as well as the solid skills and talent of the musicians working with them. It’s an album that should appeal to those with a taste for smooth, melodic, power-pop-influenced AOR and some distinctive, sweet vocals.
Chasing Violets lineup:
Sarah Fontaine & Mélissa Fontaine: Lead & Backing Vocals
Göran Edman: vocals – Philip Bardowell: vocals – Jerry Hludzik: vocals – Dane Donohue: vocals – Rick Riso: vocals – John Barbour: vocals – Tommy Denander: all Instruments – Paul Sabu: all instruments & vocals – Frédéric Slama: guitars & keyboards –Christian Tolle: guitars & keyboards – Robert Säll: guitars & keyboards – Joey Summer: guitars & keyboards – Michael Landau: guitars – Bruce Gaitsch: guitars – Colin Rodgers: guitars – Tim Manford: guitars – David Mark Pearce: guitars – Stefano Lionetti: guitars – Mario Percudani: guitars – Daniel Fontaine: guitars – Eric Ragno: keyboards – David Diggs: keyboards – Alessandro Del Vecchio: keyboards & vocals – Morris Adriaens: keyboards & vocals – Anna Portalupi: bass – Urban Danielsson: bass – Mike Baird: drums – Miri Miettinen: drums – Pierpaolo Monti: Drums –Herman Furin: drums – Pat Thern: drums – Sacha Spiegel: drums