CD Reviews – Make It Count Ronnie Atkins

(Borders)

01. I hurt myself (by hurting you)

02. Unsung Heroes

03. Rising Tide

04. Just Remember Me

05. The traces we leave behind

06. All I Ask of You

07. Grace

08. Let love lead the way

09. Blood Screams

10. Easier to leave (than to be left behind)

11. Fallen

12. Make it count

As the leader of Swedish hard rock legends PRETTY SERVANTS, Ronnie Atkins is already a legend several times over, but none of his past accomplishments come close to the marvel of his ongoing solo career, launched following a diagnosis of incurable cancer. “Make It Count” proclaim loud and clear that Atkins is still with us and, as was evident in 2020 “A shot”, on exceptional form as a singer and songwriter. Frankly, the man is a fucking hero.

The formula remains the same: enormous euphoric melodic rock anthems, tinged with a certain nostalgia but at the same time lyrical and musically provocative. Opener “I hurt myself (by hurting you)” pulls out all the stops, hitting the center of the AOR target with ease, but also presenting a warm, organic sound that artfully deflects the barrenness of much modern melodic rock. AtkinsHis vocals are, as always, the perfect blend of grit, soul and hard rock swagger, and he sells every song like it’s the most important moment on the record. As it is, there is are some obvious highlights here: “The traces we leave behind us” is pompous yet poignant in equal amounts; “All I Ask of You” goes harder and heavier, weaving giant hooks through a jagged-edged prog-metal barrage; “Blood Screams” engines like the 80s BLACK SABBATH become symphonic, and has a particularly fiery voice from the man himself.

we can forgive Atkins cornball schmaltz “Let Love Lead the Way”, not least because melodic rock perpetually teeters on the edge of these things. Much better is “Easier to leave (than to be left behind)” a fabulous piece of epic power-pop with nuances of BOSTON, and a chorus that would be beautiful in any setting, but is potentially emotionally ruinous here. Somehow even more touchingly, the closing title track places Atkinsamidst a sumptuous, quasi-orchestral arrangement, as he urges all who listen to him to seize the day and live life to the fullest. When the inevitable huge chorus breaks out, it’s a joyful and nurturing thing, a bit like Atkinssolo work in general. Long may it continue.

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Jack L. Goldstein