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Posted July 8, 2014
Chicago recorded this entire CD remotely, employing new technology to make recording work with their constant travel schedule. It completely works for me! I haven't heard Chicago so resonant since Stone of Sisyphus, which I was lucky enough to hear back in the day it was originally supposed to release.
Robert Lamm is a force to be reckoned with--his voice and writing chops are just as solid as they were in '69. For anyone who thinks he's mellowed, listen to the provocative and intense Naked in the Garden of Allah, which features the most progressive horns I've heard from this band in decades.
Robert is a driving force, producing both mellow songs (Crazy Happy, Another Trippy Day) and rockers (Naked, Free at Last). His vocals are smooth when they need to be and gritty when they need to be, and the man hasn't lost a note or a shred of tone.
Speaking of vocals, Jason has never sounded better. Love Lives On is a beautiful ballad that has grown on me, and his fire in Now is fantastic. I love the depth of vocals in the band overall, and the way they showcase singers on various tracks. I love the vocal tradeoff between Robert and Jason in Crazy Happy, and Lee’s brief vocal in Something’s Coming, I Know. Lou is utilized beautifully on America and Watching All the Colors, and Keith’s vocal for Nice Girl was a great treat.
Whatever drives you to Chicago’s music, NOW has something for everyone. Like sophisticated jazzy moments? Try Now or Watching All the Colors. Want a rocker? Try Free at Last or Naked. Drawn more to dance music? How ‘bout Something’s Coming. Ballad fan? Love Lives On should work for you. Like songs with a political message? Naked or America fit that bill.
The horns haven’t been this high in the mix in ages, and I love that they’re such an integral part of the band again. Keith’s guitar work is top notch, and it seems as if the band is really utilizing him more than ever, both live and on this release. The addition of Lou Pardini and Walfredo Reyes in recent years adds so much more depth, and they’re both used to every advantage on NOW. Tris Imboden proves again and again what a powerhouse he is. This entire band can PLAY and they show it to every advantage in this release.
Chicago is stronger than they’ve been in years, and NOW illustrates that in spades.
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