HARTMANN – Shadows & Silhouettes

HARTMANN – Shadows & Silhouettes

Oliver Hartmann probably is best known these days for his work in Avantasia and the Rock Meets Classic tours, beyond his recordings with At Vance and as a solo artist – for which "Shadows & Silhouettes" represents the fifth studio outing for his latter career. Assembling a stellar lineup of musicians like Mario Reck on guitar, Armin Donderer on bass, Markus Kullmann on drums, and Jimmy Kresic for keyboards, we get 12 songs of intoxicating melodic rock with that classic affinity that reaches back into his roots.

A peppy song like "High On You" works because of Oliver’s attention to detail, deciding to match the guitar/keyboard hooks stride for stride during the chorus as the main melody contains a shuffle swing element. It’s without question that ballads work well within his soulful, deep rock range – check out "Glow" and the acoustic/violin-oriented "Shadow in My Eyes" for two diverse arrangements that each breathe vitality. There are folk/bluegrass influences on "When Your Mama Was a Hippie", plus an AOR comfort to "Amazing" that reaches into Foreigner/ Toto territory when it comes to those shimmer vocal harmonies and equally intoxicating musical arrangement. Nothing super fancy in terms of the playing at hand – just class and respect for the genre at hand, often exploring more of the softer, quieter nuances to this style that other musicians fear tackling.

It’s interesting to hear a song like "I Would Murder for You" – one of the more energetic numbers on the record, Jimmy’s pumping keyboard and those full background vocals during the chorus bring home a track that would again go down a storm for the 80’s melodic AOR/rock mavens. In the end, "Shadows & Silhouettes" contains great, diverse songwriting of both an acoustic and electric nature, with Oliver’s signature vocal prowess carrying the tracks home.