But is it really Giant without the band’s former leading light Dann Huff out front and centre?
This is the question fans of the late-period AOR titans are again having to ask themselves as a new album hoves into view. I am one of those fans and, I have to say, whilst I can’t definitively answer for anyone else, I’ve got no qualms about getting behind a band with two original members in it keeping the flame alive…
What’s more, David (brother of Dann) Huff and Mike Brignardello have brought a quite superb guitarist – Winger and Starship alumnus John Roth, and they’ve got Dann’s seal of approval for the whole project – not to mention a solo on Never Die Young.
And then there’s the voice…
That’s right – Sentinel Daily‘s fave AOR throatsmith, Perfect Plan‘s Kent Hilli, has been drafted in to perform singing duties. To anyone who has heard the ‘Plan’s superb version of Giant classic Stay this will come as no surprise, given the manner in which Hilli made the song his own within seconds of opening his word hole; but if somehow you’re still not familiar with the grandeur that coats this man’s pipes… you’re in for a hell of an introduction.
It’s a different voice, of course – Huff’s smokey, languorous tones were a cornerstone of the Giant sound and no mistake back in the day – but there’s no denying that Hilli is the hero here. His performance on the tear-jerking ballad It’s Not Over is quite, quite breathtaking, as once again the memories of Survivor‘s Jimi Jamison in his prime keep flooding back to anyone with ears to hear. His style does change the feel of the band, especially on the ballads, but it’s a change I’m willing to embrace. Similarly Roth brings his own style to the table, never seeking to ape Dann Huff but bringing a superb sense of feel and taste that is all his own. His licks at the start of The Price of Love alone are worth the price of admission, but his work throughout is stellar.
The pumping, strutting Standing Tall is perhaps where the band get closest to recreating the full spectrum of Giant’s halcyon side, but I honestly don’t think they were overly worried about currying favour with the past too much here. Giant v.2022 is very much it’s own master, and should be approached as such. And, on those terms, Shifting Time is an unmitigated success.
Shifting Time releases on January 21st