BWW CD Review: Tyce's HERO Rocks With Precision, Lacks Emotion
Having followed Tyce's career from our days in Houston, I approached his debut solo album HERO with excitement and trepidation. I've always enjoyed his rock vocals and his skrelt, but I've also always preferred his ability to tell a story with music when he was cast in a musical. For HERO, Tyce's rocker persona is front and center as he sings the best of Jim Steinman. Across the dual disc album, he uses an edgy bravado when singing the songs, skrelts when the music calls for it, but doesn't fully commit to the gritty emotions of these beloved rock hits.
Listening to the record, there is no denying that Tyce is gifted with a powerful instrument. He knows the strengths of his voice. He has trained and shaped it well. Each of these songs have been arranged and produced by Zak Lloyd to ensure that they fall perfectly in Tyce's wheelhouse. There is an undeniable technical precision on each track. The perfectly placed and robustly sung vocal slides, slurs, and skrelts showcase an understanding of what makes rock, especially the 80s and 90s rock written by Steinman, glamorous and universally appealing.
Unfortunately, with all this work put into nailing each pitch, modulation, and vocal embellishment, the urgency and the rawness that makes this genre of rock music emotionally effective has been overlooked. Each performance on the album is too clean, too polished, and too perfected to fully satisfy on an emotional level. Tyce crafts stories with the music, and he's singing these evocative lyrics with an appreciation and comprehension of the emotions they convey, but he doesn't make these emotions relatable for his listeners. Listening to the album feels like we are in the recording studio with him, and, despite staring through the plate glass, we are fully aware of the wall that separates us.
There are standout moments on the album, but it feels that they are more informed by my own nostalgia for the individual songs than these new recordings of them. "Holding Out for a Hero" is one of my favorite songs, so I appreciate that it is presented on the album twice: once with a full band and once with just a piano. The campy lyrics of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" always bring a smile to my face, and Tyce sings them with enthusiasm. Likewise, his acoustic cover of "I'd Do Anything For Love" is lovely. Conversely, both iterations of "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" on the record leave me wanting more and wholly unsatisfied as a fan of the song.