(All Album Reviews by Duncan Glenday)
Style : Neo Progressive Rock
Rating : 3½ out of 5
Summary : Typical middle-of-the-road British neo, with everything that is good and bad in that sub-genre
Fanatic is Jadis's 5th studio album, and probably the best thing they have done to date. It is upbeat, breezy and uplifting. It is song-oriented neo, quite good, but not in the same league as Arena, Marillion, or the other pacesetters in this genre.
The lead guitar work is generally very good, with some memorable solos, but the rhythm guitar grates in places. Good bass guitar playing by John Jowitt keeps the foundation bouncing along jauntily, usually in the higher registers and very apparent, giving a pop-like quality to many of the songs.
One of the disappointments for this reviewer was that Martin Orford, the brilliant keyboardist shared by Jadis and IQ, is criminally under-utilized on this album.
The vocals are ... average. Gary Chandler is a great guitarist and there is nothing inherently wrong with his singing, but Jadis would benefit from a stronger vocalist.
The opening track "The Great Outside" starts with a pleasant acoustic guitar laid over various ambient sound effects. It leads into a promising guitar solo, which raises high expectations. But then the so-so vocals and an annoying, jangly rhythm guitar take over; and with good keys in the background an occasional flash of excellent guitar work, the pace is set for the rest of the album.
The title track is the best on the album. It is a short, purely instrumental piece, ambient, moody, and very melodic. The first half is keyboard dominated, and it ends with a simple, slow, very emotional guitar solo.
The next best track is the 8-minute "What Kind Of Reason", an emotional ballad with a simple, catchy tune. It begins with a delicate acoustic guitar and ambient keyboards, and soft, vocals that actually work very well here. It swells with the introduction of electric guitar and piano backing. There is a nice guitar solo, and a pleasant piano ending - nothing special, simple and repetitive - but very effective.
For the rest of the tracks, Jadis reveals itself as a one-trick pony. They perform that trick well, but many of the tracks have a disappointing "sameness" about them. All the basic elements are there, and with more professional production and a different vocalist, this review would probably raise Fanatic's rating to 3-1/2 or 4 out of 5.
Fanatic is good. Not great, but it is certainly worth the $14.99 at Amazon.