R.E.O. Speedwagon had some singles in the charts, but mainly in the early 80's. The band was founded back in 1968 in Champaign / Illinois. And at all they have almost 20 albums released! With Find Your Own Way Home is their latest studio album and the first one since 1996 release Build The Bridge. But some might remember the live-split album Arch Allies which was recorded in 2000 at a show with Styx. Most rock fans will remember songs like Keep On Lovin' You, Can't Fight This Feeling and Take It On The Run, but in my opinion the AORsters were always an album band, not a single-act, even if many singles found their way into the charts. They still play a lot in the USA, but rarely came over to Europe. But when they played in Europe it often been shown - at least partly - on TV like Rock am Ring 1986.
A new album was awaited by their fans for years, but still every new song is compared to their smash hits. Let's see, if Find Your Own Way Home can keep up with their hits.
The opening track Smilin' In The End is a straight AOR rocker and is in the vain of Hi Infidelity... It has power, emotions and rocks. This one says that R.E.O. Speedwagon are still alive and kicking! With the following Find Your Own Way Home they slow down and get a bit balladesque. The song has a positive vibe and I think this one will make it into their live set - plugged or unplugged. The up-tempo tune Dangerous Combination has a slight country touch due to the lap steel guitar played by Dave Amato. Lyrically the guys become a bit more mature - I know, this sounds weird -, but they have a more realistic point of view these days. On Lost On The Road Of Love they go even more country. The song has groove and makes you move. Here Amato additionally plays a dobro - a kind of resonator guitar. The Hammond organ played by Joe Vannnelli gives it a touch of 70's. Boogie time with Run Away Baby! Cronin's vocals sound here different... If I would have heard this one in a club or on air, I wouldn't have came up with R.E.O. Speedwagon! But it's a cool tune and fun to listen to.
The songs are written by singer Kevin Cronin, only Born To Love You isn't done by Cronin, written by bassist Bruce Hall. He also did the lead vocals - like he did in the past on some tracks. This time Hall gets bluesy... But the song also has some soul - and with piano and clarinet a touch of lounge music in the beginning. This is one of my favorites on this disc.
Kevin Cronin wrote together with Jim Peterik the song Dangerous Combination. Peterik and Cronin aren't a dangerous combination, but a dynamic duo when it comes to AOR songs. And in the US this song will be played at rock radio stations soon!
As a kind of bonus on the European edition the Americans add 4 live acoustic tracks including Take It On The Run and Ridin' The Storm Out. Actually I miss a bit the fire they have live and which can also spark in an acoustic set. Anyway, a nice idea.
Can I recommend this album? Yes, I can. If you want to get an impression, go to the bands webspace where you can listen to the songs. Check out: Smilin' In The End, Lost On The Road Of Love, Born To Love You and Let My Love Find You.