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Album Review

"You and I won't be lonely.
'Cause you and I will be one.
So true that I will be your one and only
You and I are in love."

One Word Review: Thoughtful

Chip Z'nuff and Donnie Vie once released an album in Japan called Brothers. It was a deviation from the Enuff Z'Nuff style, in that it was far more laid back, than the first six albums they had released so far. This might have been the reason that they decided to release it as a non-EZN album in the first place.

It would have been a shame if this gem was never released to a wider audience and fortunately, in true Enuff Z'Nuff "Confuse-A-Cat"-fashion, the album was later re-released worldwide as an Enuff Z'Nuff album, under the name Seven, with three bonus tracks tacked on at the end.

Even if Seven, musically, is much softer than the band's first six releases, the core of the band is maybe even more evident than before. The emotion, the lyrics, the feel, the melodies, the timelessness are all here, and in this, mostly acoustic environment, are allowed to shine even brighter than before. Less immediacy, guitar magic and in your face power rock, is accepted, when the album delivers something else and entirely new, which works on its own level. Seven really is a special album.

Opening with the sounds of a roller coaster underlines the message of Wheels. I feel as if the band watched Parenthood (the Steve Martin movie) and ran straight to the studio and wrote this song. It is a superb opener, that sets off the album on a positive note, and encompasses much of what has always been my main impression of the band's main message: Live your life to the fullest and accept and surmount the challenges that come with this way of life.

Many of the songs on Seven have a kind of vibe that is filled with melancholy and somehow both an awareness and acceptance of the state of things.

Still Have Tonight sets of this vibe, as Donnie's emotional opening vocals deliver a very special sense of longing and regret. One of the enchantments of Enuff Z'Nuff has always been their ability to use contrasting elements to conjure a special vibe. Here, this is accomplished by the upbeat violin melody, leading the music unto an unexpected path. Contrasting the upbeat music, the lyrics and Donnie's vocals bring forth this unique melancholic atmosphere.

Downhill further completes this atmosphere with a sense of deeper, almost endless, longing and regret. Here the music complements the lyrics in a way that only deepens the melancholy and it feels like you are falling down through a deep, bottomless void. Yet, a glimmer of hope appears on occasion.
The guitar playing beautifully embellishes the melody, and brings a certain drive to the song, as it leads it on.
I can't help feel that it is fantastic, that a song as depressive as this, can be so damn entertaining and enjoyable. Downhill is one of my favorites of the album, and a very special song.

The all-acoustic It's No Good brings a chilling vibe to the album, just because it is so good and complete in its own special way. As a comment on relationships, it delivers a strong message, complete with that Donnie Vie glint in the eye.
The song showcases the beautiful harmonies by Chip and Donnie and the bridge section is just pure Beatles, and absolutely brilliant.

5 Smiles Away is a pretty simple song on the surface, but it has layers hidden away, which only show themselves with repeated listens. As a song about overcoming mental issues, it works wonderfully, and again, the music contrasts the song's message in a superb way.

L.A. Burning immediately brings a full bodied atmosphere. The way the song beautifully glides from its first chorus to its second verse is a highlight, I always look forward to.

Let down by a somewhat static chorus, New Kind of Motion is saved by its brilliant harmonies and the absolutely magical bridge leading to the chorus. Aside from that the song is my least favorite of the album.

Just above that comes Clown Of The Town, one of the few songs that improves massively, if you re-enact the opening moment in the most animated way with a friend. It is a song that captures a specific vibe of the end of a long night on the town. A highlight is the violin solo by Derek Frigo's father, Johnny Frigo.
Also, every time the last part of the song comes up, I cannot help but sing along to the line "I've caused you so many heartbreaks". That melody line is just brilliant.

You and I was performed at my wedding, so you can imagine, I hold it pretty close. I see it as the ultimate love song, and it has a message that can bring tears to your eyes. Donnie performs it with total conviction, and I really cannot go into further details, on why this song is one of a kind amazing. Just listen.

I sometimes think of this album as a concept album about a main character's way through life, starting out with a carefree, positive outlook, but through various relationships, coming to realize that in the end, what you really have is yourself, your integrity and possibly, a soul mate.

Coming right after You and I, On My Way Back Home brings a decidedly different, and much darker vibe to the album. I see it as a comment on getting out of drug addiction or alcoholism and falling back in the trap, and as such, it is a sad sad song.

We Don't Have To Be Friends was my favorite Enuff Z'Nuff song for many years, until Joni Lynn came along. That is saying quite a lot, since I have a top 50 Enuff Z'Nuff songs, all mapped out.

We Don't Have To Be Friends had me right from the opening guitar melody. Then Donnie Vie's incredibly emotional vocals join the melody in an unbelievably perfect way, and the atmosphere that is created right there is astounding. I can picture this scene.

I was floored for many of the first listens at this display of emotion, and to the day, I find listening to the song attentively, to be a chilling experience.
The acoustic guitar and background keyboard sound give the song a special vibe. It is as if those elements caress the other elements and bring them to boiling point, adding to the intensity.

The song is just perfect in every way, and as it conjures deep feelings of regret, sadness and understanding of a situation that is less than ideal, yet accepts that and lives with it, it captures something universal, in a completely unique way.

The way the line "When you need me, I'll be right by your side" is emphasized by dual vocals, is just one of many subtle ways the band increase the dynamics of the song, and increase both the sense of place and atmosphere. Brilliant, just brilliant.

This song is just, ahh, it's so hard to describe. I don't feel like I've captured its essence, I guess you can't do that with words, but at least I tried.

After this perfect song, So Sad To See You, ends the original Brothers release with a pounding, rocking display of power. It is the song that is closest to earlier Enuff Z'Nuff songs and might as well have been included on Tweaked. It puts a definite, powerful ending to the album and is an effective goodbye.

Now, for the Seven bonus tracks, totaling three.

First up is a cover of John Lennon's Jealous Guy. I find it to be an excellent cover, more rocking and in your face than the original. A total Enuff Z'Nuff conversion that holds true to the original and embellishes it with new flavors, ending up as a different but, and as a major Lennon / Beatles fan I am hesitant to say this, more enjoyable song.

For You Girl brings back memories of Stoned and Takin' a Ride with its "flying high"-atmosphere. Aside from that, it is a typical bonus song that doesn't bring anything vital to the album, but is nice enough to hear.

I Won't Let You Go ends the Seven album in a weird way. It is clear that the song has a completely different sound when compared to the rest of the album. It sounds distinctly worse, when compared to the other songs. It has an ugly, compressed sound and it falls outside of the vibe of the main album. It is still a cool song with a great drive and power, but deep down, I believe that the album would have been stronger and more coherent, if the three bonus tracks had been left out. What an album that would have been.

If you haven't yet listened to Enuff Z'Nuff, then Seven can be that magical gateway to the band. It is probably their most inviting album and the one that is easiest to get into. It wears its emotion and inspirations on its sleeve and as you can read, it made a huge impact on my life. I absolutely love it and with this review, I hope to spread that feeling.

Written By Steen
Online: Thursday, March 21, 2019

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