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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Randy J. Hansen


Review by Larry Toering

Randy J. Hansen is new to me and he sure beats some of the current similar artists he resembles. And he, along with his band, put in a great effort to complement his influences which range from Bob Dylan to Bruce Springsteen and so many in-between all with his own mighty signature stamped all over them. By the time you are through with this CD, you really feel he loves said artists but makes their influence sound new. If you like all that encompasses great rock and roll, country, folk and even some techno-oriented sounds to combine a modern edge to classic songwriting, this title is right up your alley.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 2 at
Track by Track Review

If you like your rock a little jazzed up, yet combined with everything from folk to electronica influenced techno-rock, this is an epic opener. Still, it stays steeped in rock, but you get those other elements and more - even a singer/songwriter vibe. Those elements combined manage to introduce the set properly, but would still fit in anywhere on the disc.

Learn To Love It
This track comes with a big sound and some fat percussion, and very chunky guitar riff that takes it over the top before any vocals enter the picture. Come that time though, it’s almost like a country vocal approach. This can either work or not, but Hanson manages to pull off a great effort that tends to show the Nickelbacks of the world how to incorporate country styling with hard rock chops. Good lyrics help make this all it can be. It’s modern, but it’s classic too. For what more can you ask?
Wayward Lover
I always welcome an early ballad, and this goes full on country with a few easy listening bells and whistles. It’s good for me, and the one step outside the box this makes is added horns. The guitar solo completely outshines everything and helps make the song. And even though country comes on strong here, I can see anyone from Americana fans to R and B lovers eating this up. But to the one dimensional layman who doesn’t wrap their head around variety, it might go shamefully under-appreciated.
This kicks off with a piano motif to set up a singer/songwriter heavy narrative. Things take on an influence felt from Elton John and Billy Joel to more modern crooners like Josh Groban. The female singer adds just the right touch on this tune. I like it just as much as the previous number but they’re actually not much alike.
No Right or Wrong
Taking the tempo all the way back up here with more snappy percussion and a solid groove, this is a more straight-forward rocker with a particularly different vocal mix. This isn’t as easy to wrap your head around at first listen, but with more spins it gets better. I would leave this in the country basket where it belongs but once again some other influences are added, with some cool effects. Probably one of the more acquired tastes on offer, this is nevertheless an interesting track within this collection.
Scared in the Dark
This one fits many a genre, but blues is heavily featured on what comes in the shape of yet another ballad. And it’s the most compelling effort thus far, leaving the previous two ballads of slightly less interest because of how this plays out in every way. A very spooky narrative combined with yet another fantastic guitar solo are what makes this one of the best tracks on the disc. We are talking an outstanding effort on this. All that appeals about this release is contained within this one track and helps go a long way in defining the sound of Randy J. Hanson. It proves his abilities and efforts combined - excellent!
Road to Your Heart
Things go back down another notch here, but it is again welcomed after the energy of the previous track. I love how the bass has a down groove here on another crooner styled ballad that sits more in the easy listening realm but spiced with folk factors. By this time Randy is nailed as more of a crooner than a rocker or straight country artist. Americana is likely the best place to fit him. It’s a combined influence genre if there ever was one. This track stands up to any others here of the same speed.
Sinners in Love
This whole CD is balanced well between ballads, rockers, semi-ballads and semi-rockers. I’m not as thrilled with this as some others material-wise on the disc, but it evens out the tempo thus far. And once the guitar solo kicks in, they manage to rock this pretty well. ALthough this dips things down just a bit in the fun, it nevertheless pulsates.
If I am sonicly speaking this is the best track on offer to my ears. The attitude makes it, and the rest just keeps my interest better than anything surrounding it. They rock but there is still no question that the Tom Petty fans of the world will love this speed. It’s hard to explain but there is a holy vibe to this one that isn’t found anywhere else on the disc. Again this CD is chock full of influences from said pop artist to Van Morrison. But the former influence takes completely over on this one. This is probably the overall biggest number.
No One’s Fool
Hanson takes the disc out very well with another piano driven track that brings out that country tone in his voice. Once again the singer/songwriter in him takes over. These lyrics are the easiest to follow and relate to. More killer guitar work is applied here, and it’s a great way to end a great release in epic build-up fashion, making it well placed at the end of the set.
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