15 January 2012

Review: Fergie Fredericksen - Happiness is the Road

When I was 15 years old my brother took me to see Toto. It was the Isolation tour and the singer just happened to be Fergie Frederiksen. I hadn’t stayed up on what happened to Frederiksen after his stint in Toto, but a few of the songs on that CD are still some of my favorites.
I was curious as to what Frederiksen had been up to so I did a few Google searches. It seems that Frederiksen has had a few ups and downs since his Toto days. He even retired for a while to run a restaurant with his father, but quickly realized there was no life for him without music.
I was saddened to learn that he had been diagnosed with an inoperable cancer earlier this year. It turns out, to the surprise of his doctors he is now almost cancer free. This is the backdrop for Happiness Is The Road. This is an album that is steeped in emotion. Happiness is the Road is just about enjoying being alive, enjoying the journey without worrying about the destination too much.
There are some great musicians on this album: Dennis Ward (Bass Guitar, Guitars, Keyboards, Background Vocals and Producer), Dirk Bruinenberg (Drums), Nathan Eshman (Guitars) and Eric Ragno (Keyboards).
“Angel (Mirror to your Soul)” is a nice way to start this album. It’s has a really catchy chorus and it rocks pretty good. The sound reminds me of Asia or Survivor. “Follow Your Heart” seems to be the show piece of the album. It has great lyrics and Frederiksen knows just how squeeze every last drop of emotion out of the vocals. It starts quiet with just piano and vocals and then builds into nice power ballad.
The catchy keyboards and guitars in “Lyin Eyes” remind me of a cross between The Cars and Journey. “Writing On The Wall” has a nice instrumental break at the end that reminds me of Toto quite a bit.
My favorite track on Happiness is the Road is “The One”. It starts out with just keyboard and then the other instruments come in in-between the rest to accent the beat. The guitar starts to play a muted lick that reminds me of the guitar part during the verses of Toto’s “Hold the Line”. “The One” is a very catchy song. There is a nice guitar solo doubled by the bass in parts and all the keyboards create a nice ambience for the song.
The album ends strong with a song in a similar style to the previous one. “The Savior,” has a keyboard part that is ridiculously catchy. It’s so happy it could put an ogre into a good mood. The call and answer solos between the guitar and keyboard keep up the quick momentum of the song. The song ends with Frederiksen singing, “No need to worry, I will stay around whenever you need.” It is all the reassurance I need to know that he’s gonna stick around and rock us for many years to come.
I really enjoyed listening to Happiness Is The Road. I secretly hoped there would be some members from Toto playing on it. But the same pleasure centers in my brain were satisfied by the talented musicians that did play on this CD. If you liked Toto, Asia, Survivor, Kansas or Journey you will like this album.
4/5 Stars
Key Tracks: Follow Your Heart, The One, The Savior
Kirk Bullough

1 Angel (Mirror To Your Soul)
2 Elaine
3 First To Cry
4 Follow Your Heart
5 Happiness Is The Road
6 I Still Believe In Love
7 Lyin' Eyes
8 Love Waits For No One
9 Writing On The Wall
10 The Future Ain't What It Used To Be
11 The One
12 The Savior

Artists: Fergie Frederiksen
Title: Happiness Is the Road
Genre: AOR
Label: Frontier Records

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