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Ailafar – State of Mind

Ailafar
State of Mind
by Leanne Evans at 26 February 2021, 8:47 PM

AILAFAR is a Greek melodic rock quintet – hailing from Thessaloniki - founded in late 2006 by John Tzortzis to perform his material. After a few changes to the line-up, they recorded their first demo in May 2009, and September 2009 cemented the beginnings of the first full album “Long way to Imagery”. Fast forward to 2019 and AILAFAR’s fourth album, “State of Mind”, was underway and is now ready and waiting for your aural appreciation and soulful serenity.

Everything about “State of Mind” is pure and virtuous, the kind of easy-listening you crave after an arduous day where you just want to switch off. This doesn’t mean that its sweetness dilutes its sound, far from it; the album conveys some hard-hitting poignant outlooks on life, without imposing vitriol, rather it gently opens your mind.  Opening track “Zombie Town” is a prime example of AILAFAR’s ability to get your cerebral juices flowing whilst enjoying a softly-softly tone. The track is an upbeat melodic piece, quintessentially AOR, with a mystical intro. Kostas’s bass work adds the depth needed to convey the impactful message of civilisation of today, with lyrics such as “Working like ants, running like rats, We’re rich in our pockets, but not in our hearts”. Quite the introspective piece that sets the tone perfectly for the next track, “Tide of Spirits”. This record is quite the power ballad, pensively poetic, with a fabulous guitar intro and displays some beautiful piano work, courtesy of Vangelis. Smooth vocal harmonies are poured throughout and Tatiana showcases her powerful vocal projection. John’s guitar solo later in the track, combined with Stergios’s on-point drum fills, makes “Tide of Spirits” for one of the highlights of “State of Mind”.

“It Means Nothing to You” crashes in as one of the album’s more tempestuous tracks, with a sense of HEART meets ALANNAH MYLES about it. That driving unrelenting drumbeat from Stergios is infectious, coupled with Kostas’s bass work, makes for a real stomper. Tatiana doesn’t disappoint with her clean compelling vocals, belting out “Please use me, please abuse me, until you really lose me”. “It Means Nothing to You” manifests as an impassioned scorcher of a song! Another must-listen on “State of Mind” is “Eagle in the Hail”. With the tinkering keyboard in the background, the playful guitar sound, layered with forceful drumbeats and softer vocals, that crescendo when Tatiana sings “I’m an eagle in the hail”, you feel pretty darn empowered. Clean, good-spirited fun from AILAFAR.

Sadly, there are a couple of tracks that don’t personally hit the spot for me. “Teach me to Dance”, whilst it has pleasant vocal harmonies between Dean and Tatiana, is too gushing and sickly-sweet with its out-of-date sound and Mills-and-Boon thematic. Lyrics such as “teach me to dance, teach me to fly, dance in the rhythm of you and I” are a bit too schmaltzy and slushy for my liking. Similarly, “Life is a Chess” feels gimmicky and has a distinctly euro-pop feel, lacking AILAFAR’s melodic rock heart and soul.

Overall, “State of Mind” is a bonny album entirely suited to needing a moment of feel-good pensive reflection; the sort of musical comfort blanket you need if your soul is pained and you need a soothing sanctuary to immerse the entirety of your being. AILAFAR has produced a wholesome AOR piece for your delightful pleasure and, whilst a couple of the tracks aren’t quite up to par, “State of Mind” still enchants and enthrals.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Zombie Town
2. Tide of Spirits
3. Life is a Chess
4. Step up the Stairs
5. It Means Nothing to You
6. Teach me to Dance
7. Eagle in the Hail
8. Bleeding Rose
9. Celebration
10. Somewhere
11. Mark on the World
12. The Last Day
Lineup:
Tatiana Economou - Vocals
John Tzortzis - Guitars
Kostas Mauroudis - Bass
Stergios Kourou - Drums
Vangelis Valis Papageorgiou – Piano/Keyboard

Guest vocals:
Dean Mess on ‘’Teach Me to Dance’’
Tzeni Katikaridou on ‘’Life is a chess’’
Mariangela Arapoglidou on ‘’It means nothing to you’’ and ‘’Someday’’
Maria Katikaridou on “The last day”

Additional guest musicians:
Drums: Tasos Duce on ‘’It means nothing to you”
Drums : Apostolis Mousias on “Bleeding rose”
Record Label: Valve Studio Records
     


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