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Squared – Strange Affairs

Strange Affairs
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 27 May 2022, 2:52 AM

Following the pandemic, plans for “Strange Affairs” were reworked. SQUARED decided to hire the renowned session musicians and longtime friends of Jack; Robin Risander on Drums & Kammo Olayvar on Bass. “Strange Affairs” has an authentic sound because it was recorded with vintage instruments together with live drums & completely without any auto-tune on the vocals. For 1989 this would be the way every album had to be recorded, but it is almost unheard of in today's music scene. The album contains nine tracks.

“One Thousand Years” leads off the album; a brief intro, heavy with keyboards. A distorted riff breaks through on the horizon, shining light down on you. “Stranger at Heart” opens with charming keyboards and melodic guitar. Jack’s vocals are very high in the register, and layered harmonies lead in the chorus. “Personal Matter” features a nice balance between guitars and keyboards, and the prowess of the vocalist. He reminds me of Ted Poley from DANGER DANGER, with that more tender approach to his singing. “Darkest Fantasies” is a power ballad, with a slowed down pace and more emotional qualities. The falsetto in the vocals brings different side of things to the album.

“Love can be Lonely” begins with soft and pretty clean guitars, and poignant vocals. The guitar solo capitalizes on the melody, which is sad and longing. “Love can be lonely, like a memory” he croons. “Say that you Love Me” is a little quicker, still with those heavy emotional qualities. The harmony layers in the chorus hit you with a big punch. “Love Affair” is another tender offering that opens with pensive keyboard notes and the vocalist singing “so this is it…you’re leaving…again.” The guitar solo drips with emotion and that tone is bossy. “Clutching at Straws” is another tear-jerking song with a longing for the past. Jack stretches out to the higher ranges and the chorus is again full of wonderful harmonic layers.

The short “Anthem of a Broken Heart” closes the album. It features, keyboards, piano and vocals, with no drums or guitar and bass. The sentimental qualities of the song are very real. Overall, let me add a few closing notes. You can hear the lack of auto-tune in the vocals, but it really just makes the album more genuine. Many of the songs are on the ballad side of the genre, but they are still emotionally impactful. Tender and sweet, it will leave you coming back for more.

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

4 Star Rating

1. One Thousand Years
2. Stranger at Heart
3. Personal Matter
4. Darkest Fantasies
5. Love can be Lonely
6. Say that you Love Me
7. Love Affair
8. Clutching at Straws
9. Anthem of a Broken Heart
Arthur Vere – Guitars
Jack L. Stroem – Vocals
Kammo Olayvar – Bass
Robin Risander – Drums
Record Label: Independent


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Edited 07 July 2022

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