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Design By Humans
Published On: Tue, Aug 12th, 2014

Chicago: Now (Chicago XXXVI)

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Now (Chicago XXXVI)
(Frontiers Records)

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The big MOR groove of horns and sweeping strings inform “Now” the opener of Chicago’s new Now (Chicago XXXVI) album. From the outset here it is obvious that this classic rock/pop band has managed a very lush production to this 11-song set, as they often have. The chunky choruses of “More Will Be Revealed” follows and then we get the guys in full harmony on “America,” with some slightly trite lyrics, I’m sorry to say.

A flangy guitar sets up the the big horn mover “Free at Last” and the pretty, acoustic ballad, “Love Lives On,” is a solo piece  for bassist/vocalist/Jason Scheff’s with soft accents from trombones around him. “Something’s Coming, I Know” is another mover featuring the drumming of Tris Imboden and Chicago original member Robert Lamm’s organ and lead vocals….there’s a cool lead guitar here from Keith Howland to.

“Naked in the Garden of Allah” is musically probably the most adventurous tune here. It has some great rockin’ guitar, Scheff’s bass cooks in just the right pocket and John McFee’s fiddle is placed perfectly. There are only a few horns used here, but the whole concoction rocks mid-way during a big instrumental section and the ending swirls in a good middle eastern music mode.

I’m not going to kid you, this is all rather mid-tempo, light fare with lots and lots of extra musicians on board, but the songs are well played and as Now (Chicago XXXVI) is the first new album of all new compositions from this classic American band in nearly a decade, I’ll take it.

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Chicago: Now (Chicago XXXVI)