Sound: "One Step At A Time" was released by Status Quo frontman Francis Rossi in May 2010. It features 8 new, original compositions, a cover version of a song his son wrote for his own band and a re-working of the Quo classic "Caroline". Rossi claims: "I never stop writing songs and melodies but there have been many tracks over the years that just weren't right for Quo. These songs have been gathering dust in my mind for too long and now seems the right time to let them out into the world. It's a big step for me I love these songs so much it hurts!" but will it please the hardcore Quo fans as well as appealing to a new audience? Will it be met with the same chilling reception "King Of The Doghouse" received?
The first impressions of this album are that it has a very happy vibe. Particularly catchy melodies give some tracks an almost "nursery rhyme" feel although the musicianship on this release is fantastic and is not to be sniffed at. Rossi has not shied away from the odd solo here and there like many thought he would. Even the bluesy, rockier numbers like "Strike Like Lightning" and "Caroline" have a pop atmosphere about them. This I think is maybe down to production. Overall, the production is quite good with appropriate mixes and arrangements. Many of the tracks featured layered guitars but unfortunately, none feature that Rossi twin harmony sound. They are layered in a way that fattens up the sound and gives the song a bigger impact. Lots of acoustic overdubbing is present which is a device Rossi has used on more recent Quo releases. My only real complaint is that some tracks feature a rather poor snare drum sound but this is only on certain tracks. This is a production issue. "Here I Go", "Faded Memory" and "One Step At A Time" are the better examples of this. This album is really what Francis Rossi is about. He is clearly a sucker for a catchy tune and seems to have ditched the whole "rock" thing and this, for me, makes his playing much more comfortable to listen to. This is a pop album start to finish even if it does feature the odd sub genre now and again. // 7
Lyrics: Unfortunately, Rossi's lyrics don't go so deep. As nice and catchy as they are, many of them don't seem to mean anything with the exception of maybe "Tallulah's Waiting" a mid paced pop song about Rossi's love of being on the road twinned with his dislike of being away from his family and "If You Believe" which many fans believe to be about Quo counterpart Rick Parfitt. The lyrics are catchy and make sense at least. Each song seems to have a story but none of the tracks are particularly moving but I don't think that was what Rossi was going for anyway. It was always his intention to release a collection of songs he was proud of and enjoyed. Rossi's vocals are adequate and his natural huskiness sneaks though at times. The album also features female backing vocals that provide a totally different kind of harmony found on a Status Quo release. This is quite refreshing and I think that vocal arrangements were well thought out and appropriate. // 6
Overall Impression: Overall, I think this album is aimed at anyone who wants it for the right reasons. Don't expect a hard hitting rock album or a deeply moving classic here. "One Step At A Time" is neither. Pop and light rock fans may be pleasantly surprised if they were to give it a try. Certain tracks will get stuck in your head while others will have you reaching for your guitar to jam along to. It's all very "major scale" but this is a good effort from Francis. If you don't like post '86 Quo, then it's likely that you won't like this but this theory has been proven wrong already! Personally, I like it. Rossi has matured as a musician and knows his stuff. Every other musician worth his salt is allowed to change and re-invent himself so why won't people let Francis Rossi? This is not a Status Quo album. This is Francs Rossi being himself. It's an honest, well made piece of Rossi history. Hear it here.
01. "Sleeping On The Job: A good catchy opener. Nice little breakdown with 'call and answer' guitar solo. Would not have been out of place on Thirsty Work. 9/10
02. Tallulah's Waiting: One of the stronger songs lyrically. The double stopped guitar riff is nice and sounds like an organ. Nice solo here too! 8/10
03. Crazy For Yo: If there was a nod to Quo on here, then it's this track. A strong chorus and great backing vocals. 9/10
04. One Step At A Time: Rossi's personal favourite on the album. Good arrangement and a killer bass guitar line that would have the best of them struggling! Strong harmonic structure. Three chords my arse. 9/10
05. Here I Go: Again, catchy but not as strong as some as the others on here. Some have complained that it is "too fast". 6/10
06. Faded Memory: The Single! A nice little pop song inspired by Rossi's tobacco addiction. Half time verses give the chorus a big lift and the harmonies here are also very impressive. If only the snare drum sounded real! 7/10
07. Strike Like Lightning: Fantastic. Rossi wrote this for Paul Camilleri a while ago and now it has appeared here. Strong riff and musicianship. Just lacks a solo I feel. 9/10
08. Rolling Down The Road: The highlight for me. Written by Nick Rossi for his band Little Egypt, this track is catchy, well arranged and most importantly has the most sing-along-able chorus on the disc. Fab solo too! Perfect! 10/10
09. Caroline: As it was originally intended to be recorded in the early '70s. A groovy shuffle and the famous riff is quoted in the outro which I thought was a nice touch. Many feel this addition was inappropriate and should have been left off. I like it. It's fun and it swings. Cool lead breaks too. 8/10
10. If You Believe: A nice closer. A song in waltz time that some fans believe to be about Rick and his current wife although many pointed out that like the whole album, the lyrics are fairly underwritten and are easily transferable. A nice track with a meaning. Another killer harmony laden song with a solo by Francis on top form. 9/10
Well worth a try! It has grown on most of the people who hated it at first and the tracks sounded even better on the tour. Enjoy! // 9