Mr. Big return with their new album Defying Gravity, the follow up to the very well received 2014 release, …the stories we could tell.
The album was recorded in six days – no, that isn’t a typo. When you think of waiting eight/ten plus years for household name, stadium and major festival headlining bands to get their act together and make something new instead of living on their past, Mr. Big really put things in to perspective with their third high quality offering in the last seven years.
I’m going to start with the ballad of all Mr. Big Ballads. No, not their number one hit ‘To Be With You’, not ‘Just Take My Heart’ or 2010’s ‘All The Way Up’ or any other. In my humble opinion they have surpassed these. I refer to ‘Forever and Back’. A man regretful of past words and actions such as gambling and drinking, now begging for forgiveness having apparently recognized his mistakes. Recently single blokes would be crippled by the intensity of this ballad, which I am not presuming is or isn’t intentional. I don’t care if you’re the Night King from Game Of Thrones, you’ll melt. The backing vocals in the chorus compliment Eric Martins lead vocal performance so well by being so very subtle. A simple, meticulously well-placed “ah-ah-ah” can be magic if used in the right places. Don’t take my word for it, listen to the official audio channel here instead.
‘1992’ is something of an enigma to me. At first it sounds a lot like it could be on a Paul Gilbert solo album. It develops in to something you wouldn’t see coming. The different sections in this song could all be expanded in to different songs in their own right. Such is the diversity. If you heard snippets of each part I’m not sure you’d be able to see how it goes together. It’s really great how it all does. The title is reference to the year they had their biggest hit, and speaks of the events leading up to and following that time.
The title track is fun to listen to, but my suggestion would also be to most definitely watch the accompanying music video as well. I’m not sure if others would agree the song has a ‘flying through space’ feel. Most people who know of Paul Gilbert also know of his space suit, maybe that’s influencing me. The duality of vocals and guitar on the same melody at the end of the verses is beautiful, but so is the swap from lead vocals to lead guitar during the verses.
The opening bluesy ‘Open Your Eyes’ has a nice little homage to their eponymous debut album from 1989 that I won’t spoil. The riff is quite catchy and Paul has one of his well placed but, crucially, never over-used shred master moments.
The last track ‘Be Kind’ is also a blues ballad with some nice that has in my opinion the best backing vocals. Personally it is a favorite, and it’s nice to have that message of respect in a classic soft rock blues style. A nice surprise at the end too but I don’t know how to describe it so I wont try.
Overall Defying Gravity is much more bluesy than it’s more hard-rock predecessor but that’s no criticism. It’s enjoyable and definitely worth having. Don’t take the brief insight from one guys review though. Have a listen, have a look, hopefully pick up a copy.
Mr. Big finished a North America tour before the release of this album and are now on tour in South America, heading to Asia and then on to Europe. You can get details on their official website which also includes VIP packages. I have mine for their London show which I look forward to with great anticipation.
01. Open Your Eyes
02. Defying Gravity
03. Everybody Needs a Little Trouble
04. Damn I'm In Love Again
05. Mean To Me
06. Nothing Bad (About Feeling Good)
07. Forever And Back
08. She's All Coming Back To Me Now
10. Nothing At All
11. Be Kind
Playing Time: 49:29
Eric Martin - Vocals
Billy Sheehan - Bass/backing vocals
Paul Gilbert - Guitar/backing vocals
Pat Torpey - Drums/percussion/backing vocals
Matt Starr - Drums