Review by Rick Ossian
There are two different types of ballads; first and foremost, there are the tender, heart-wrenching tearjerkers. We’ve all had a sappy, emotional love ballad assault our ears from one time to another. Type two are the journeyman ballads, the ones that, while they may tug at our heartstrings, are also very believable, very relatable, and, of utmost importance, very hummable! This type, thankfully, is the one which our hero, Fergie Frederiksen (aka David London, aka Dennis Hardy “Fergie” Frederiksen), is the purveyor of. As it happens, doing this noteworthy review prompted me to dig through my record collection for a Trillion album. Seems David was once their lead singer…He also worked with Tommy Shaw‘s old band, MS Funk, when Tommy bailed for Styx). Also turns out this cat is from my old stomping grounds, or close by, rather. He grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I grew up in Big Rapids, Michigan, a mere hour north. According to Wikipedia, Fergie has also sung for such AOR noteworthies as ‘Angel, LeRoux, and Toto in the 80’s’, even handing in a turn as background vocalist for Survivor.
However, that’s not what’s important here. What IS important is what’s on offer, and that’s a pretty decent batch of songs. The title track (Happiness Is The Road) may be the best one of the bunch. Happiness is a hard-charging, piano-pumping rocker with an excellent solo and killer vocals. And it’s not the only one. To be sure, this CD is chock-full of ballads (Elaine, First to Cry, I Still Believe In Love (and what else could it be with a title like that, I ask you?), Love Waits For No One, The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be). These aren’t just ballads, though; what we have are tough ballads, a little rough around the edges, with stinging guitar solos and neat, concise piano runs. You needn’t worry if mellow is not your speed, true believers. Ballads aside, as I mentioned before, there are some rockers.
If you like your rock pompous, poppy, and loaded with arrogant prog-isms, then Fergie may be just what you’ve been yearning for. Follow Your Heart, Lyin’ Eyes, and Writing On The Wall are all mid-to-uptempo rockers, full of bombastic piano and synth flourishes, sky vocals, and punchy, charging riffs and rhythms.
The final two tracks, however, are the ones to listen to. Oddly enough, next to last is titled The One. It is a piano-led stomper, full of riff-rock with a very cool solo about three minutes in. The Savior, which is last in line, and another piano-led vehicle (surprise!), is not quite what you might expect. I was expecting a paean to the Lord, of course, but that was not what I was given. Instead, we get an ultimately grandiose, uptempo scorcher, about a man who has come to grips with his relationship. He sees his role very clearly: “I’m ready for my destiny/to where I’m meant to be/to set my spirit free/ whatever you need/I am your guardian angel/your hero always right behind you”. This is not a man who worships just anything – he worships his woman. Now what, dear reader, is more rock and roll than that?