Let’s address the elephant in the room straightaway (and I’m not referring to the studio of that name where this album was assembled): the guitarist of LEVARA is the son of the guitar wizard and Toto mainstay, Steve Lukather. Trev is his name and he does not and has not ridden his father’s coattails to get a record deal with Mascot…nor, thankfully, did drummer Josh Devine’s time with One Direction. Along with French born singer Jules Galli who has an exceptional range and awareness of melody, they earned it by demonstrating live that they have the playing and compositional ability that deserves a chance rather than any familial or previous band history.
There are many meanings out in lexicon-land for the band name but I will take it as referring to leading..which is the most sensible one I found; maybe the band can tell us different?
Anyway, onto the music and opening track, Heaven Knows, reveals a melodic depth from all of the musicians; the riff may be Foo at first, but it develops into a professional and glossy piece of melodic rock showcasing the power and range from vocalist Jules and a deft touch on guitar (natch!) from Trev who supplies solid riffing and phrasing but there’s no solo as such, just a little Roland assisted (I think) couple of bars.
Automatic is the song the band says defines them…riff, soaring chorus, manic but subtle drumming and a quality guitar solo are all present, so I tend to agree although, if I had only heard this track I may have been tempted to compare/contrast with a lower helium rated Boston but the rest of the album has a diversity that this one track would ignore.
Take the next track, Ever Enough, for example; it is more Flying Colors than the slick, processed sound of the former as this has more feel and depth with a tasteful, atonal guitar solo I love. On For The Night is a pop/rock song with plenty of melodic structure but, apart from the great chorus and solo, it is too ‘radio-ready’ for my normal listening…but that’s just my personal bias, it still has a lot to offer.
Allow has a neat drum intro that allays any fears that Josh’s live duties only go in one direction(!) or would infect his rock qualities! Melodic rock lovers will be quivering with this one as the layers un-peel and another crafted guitar solo lights up the complex rhythms. Can’t Get Over hits the Melodic pop/rock button again that comes across to my febrile mind as U2 does Eurovision…except it has better vocals and guitar!!
Chameleon sees a guest with gravitas as Steve Perry (of Journey fame) adds his vocals to this one, and a couple of others too. More Edgy guitar behind Jules (and Steve’s) soaring vocal and a structure that could possibly be a hit single even today; melodic pop rock that has more to offer than that description…multiple layers that reveal soo much quality and depth to the whole ensemble.
Ordinary is up next and errr, it isn’t; the Peter Gabriel feel is palpable and yet very individual to the band and the time changes are spectacular…as is the guitar solo. Just A Man is the penultimate song and has a bit a funky/reggae feel that works well either side of the chorus where Jules’ vocals define soaring. Final track, No One Above You, rounds it all out with the slowest, balladiest(?) song that begs for lighters to be held aloft (or less satisfactory ‘phone lights) and for me provides the best track on the album; it shows how capable these three really are.
Melodic Rock lovers will lap this up and, when the pandemic passes and the band hit the road, I have a feeling they will be even better live.
Bluesdoodles rating: 4 Doodles Paws – A Wonderful Melodic Rock album that will appeal to (yes) Toto, Boston, Journey fans as well as radio friendly rockers in general.
1. Heaven Knows
3. Ever Enough
4. On For The Night
6. Can’t Get Over
9. Just A Man
10. No One Above You
Trev Lukather: guitars
Jules Galli: vocals
Josh Devine: drums
Steve Perry: backing vocals
Produced by Ethan Kaufmann at Elephant in the Room Studios
(The iTunes run on track this time served up an absolutely brilliant slice of 1927 blues called Rock Island Blues by Lewis Black; typical of the time it has vocals that take some getting used to and guitar that is primitive and beautiful.)