Sunday, March 12, 2017

Initial Impressions: Tyce - Hero

I have made no secret of the fact that Jim Steinman is one of the small handful of musical heroes I have. He is largely responsible for me falling in love with music, and even all these years later, I am a devoted fan of those classic songs. So each and every time a project comes along that resurrects his music, I'm interested in hearing a fresh take on the maestro's work.

This time around, we get an album of Steinan covers performed by Broadway singer Tyce. I will preface this by saying I have not heard every second of the album. These thoughts are my impressions from the samples, bits and pieces I've had the opportunity to hear so far.

Track selection is paramount. Steinman has enough amazing songs in his catalog for a cover artist to make a truly awe-inspiring album. Tyce, however, has picked a few classics, the song-du-jour, and a couple of odd choices. Taking on "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" and "It's All Coming Back To Me" are obvious and necessary choices, and I understand piggy-backing on the "Bat Out Of Hell" musical and Meat Loaf's recent album by taking "Braver Than We Are", but I cannot say "I'll Kill You If You Don't Come Back" or "I'm Gonna Love Her For Both Of Us" are quality choices. Not when there are other songs like "Surf's Up", "Bad For Good", "Nowhere Fast", and "Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young" that rarely get any attention. The album starts out from a weaker score by virtue of the track selection.

The sound is solidly professional, and while less bombastic than the man himself, has the appropriate Steinman sound. I feel "Holding Out For A Hero" was slowed down far too much, and a handful of the other tracks could have used a bit more instrumentation to beef up the drama, but the production of the record is better than I was expecting.

Those decisions, I'm sure, were made to put the focus on Tyce's voice, since this is his album, after all. That's where everything goes wrong.

For a professional singer, one who also spends time as a vocal coach, Tyce is bordering on awful at times. People can disagree on a singer's tone, but I have one rule for any singer; pronounce your words. If you can't manage to enunciate the lyrics, your performance is lazy and simply not good enough. Tyce sometimes sounds a bit shrill for my taste, but his voice is his voice, and that's fine. What isn't fine is that he often slurs his way through the lyrics, making lines I know by heart indecipherable. It's not just annoying, but it insults the man whose music Tyce is claiming to be honoring.

We keep seeing just how hard it is to properly recreate Jim Steinman's music. Meat Loaf failed completely last year, because his voice is shot, and Tyce doesn't fare much better here. With a powerful voice and an entire catalog of great music to choose from, it's sad that this is the best he could produce.

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