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SoundCloud Music Reviews: “Forbidden Love” By Cherry Dreams – Classic Rock Done The Right Way

SoundCloud Music Reviews: “Forbidden Love” By Cherry Dreams – Classic Rock Done The Right Way

Forbidden Love is a new song by Calgary-based band Cherry Dreams. It’s a song that very much harks back to the golden age of rock, while avoiding the heavily distorted, massively clichéd shredding that’s plagued Metal in recent decades.

The song opens with a baseline and drumbeat reminiscent of the verses from U2’s Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me and the moment the lead guitarists plays the first harmonic on his heavily over-driven Les Paul, you get the sense that you’re listening to something from another era. An era that those of us who love classic rock have sorely missed.

After the moody intro, we are then treated to the main riff that continues throughout, with the lead guitarist soloing over the whole affair using Indian scales, something which makes it sound a lot like Led Zep’s Kashmir in places. And that’s not the only Led Zeppelin influence in the song, the lead vocals are very Robert Plant and towards the end they are very similar to Plant’s wailing in the aforementioned Kashmir.

When the lead vocal kicks in, it sounds a bit “wobbly”, meaning that it’s not holding perfect pitch. This may sound like a criticism, in fact it’s anything but. In an age where almost every recording artist uses vocal tuning software – even if it’s added during production without the singer’s knowledge – it’s so very refreshing to hear an imperfect vocal sung naturally. If any vocal tuning has been done at all during production, then it’s very subtle indeed.

Un-Edited Actual Producer Comments:

We did not tune every single note. We did not run it through Auto-tune and let it figure it out.We graphically tuned a few notes, when I thought it was necessary, as it was agreed, we did not want to ‘hammer’ the pitch like many modern recordings. In my expert opinion, it is in tune where it needs to be, and loose with tuning where it needs to be. That’s rock n roll.

Casual music fans may not realize this, but there are very few people in the industry who actually can sing with the perfect pitch you hear throughout modern music. This is because pretty much everyone – though they may deny it – has their vocals tuned during production. To hear a singer actually singing naturally adds something to the music in the way that a heavily tuned vocal could never do. This is a singer who has confidence in his voice without relying on the crutch of production. It’s also in-keeping with the rest of the band and the way the record has been produced. It has a very live feel to it. Though there is some added reverb, it’s very light.

Reverb is another aspect of production which has plagued music and stopped it sounding natural. Too much reverb makes a song sound “muddy” and distant, this is just perfect, giving the track a very in-your-face feel to it. There’s definitely some reverb-like effect added to the vocal, but it sounds like it may be a subtle “slapback delay” rather than reverb.

Every effort put forth from the producer add up to great results. It would be extremely naïve however to think that this all happened by accident. In many ways it’s harder to make a song sound natural than it is to make it sound heavily produced, so I think the producer knew exactly what he was doing and got the exact result he wanted.

If there’s one criticism of the song itself, it’s that it’s not instantly catchy and may take a few listens before you fully appreciate it, but if you do you are in for a treat if you love classic rock.


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Full Bio:

In 2003, vocalist Michael Owens, guitarist Greg Learmonth and long time friend drummer Serafino Verardi started jamming. They were soon joined by former Sweet Lucy keyboard player James Todd. Collectively, they are primarily influenced by Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple.

Although he was in choir at a very young age, Michael went to college and became an engineering technologist. After college, he decided that he wanted to pursue a career in music so he moved to Calgary and began studying vocals at Royal Conservatory. While there, he also began private voice instruction from Van Louis, original lead singer of The Stampeders. Michael was in several bands over the years, mostly in Calgary and Toronto, and courted success on many occasions. While in Toronto, he also studied opera at the Canadian Vocal Academy. While working abroad from 1993 – 2000, Michael wasn’t able to actively participate in his music career. He started doing so again in 2003 when Cherry Dreams was formed.

Greg grew up in Calgary, AB and began his musical journey at age 6, starting with piano lessons. This continued for another 8 years at which point he completed his Royal Conservatory of Music exams achieving First Class honors. By this time though, Greg had already gotten the rock n roll bug and had began to pursue his real passion, which was the guitar. With a solid musical foundation, Greg taught himself to play the guitar, studying the masters of blues and rock, most notably Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix and Ritchie Blackmore.

As a teenager Greg spent as much time as he could jamming with friends and anybody he met that that shared his passion for music. After high school Greg went to Toronto to study 2 years at the Trebas Institute of Recording Arts, learning about music production, sound engineering, music composition and a wide variety of other music industry essentials. After Trebas Greg would spend the next 4 years going back and forth from Toronto to Calgary playing and recording with various musicians. It was during this time that Greg had met a singer in Calgary named Michael Owens and formed a band called Wyldlife playing covers and recording original songs on Greg’s new 4 track recorder. This relationship would result in Cherry Dreams 25 years later.

After Wyldlife called it quits, Greg spent a few years trying to get something going, finally hooking up with some old friends, playing and recording mostly original music in a band called Goodstock which lasted a few years. It is also around this time that Greg began his career as a music instructor, teaching mostly guitar and bass guitar which he continues to do today, 15 years later. In around 2003 Greg and Mike reunited and worked at getting a band together. Soon they were joined by former Sweet Lucy keyboardist, Jamie Todd and the seeds for Cherry Dreams were sown. The seeds finally burst in 2014, when Cherry Dreams recorded their debut EP at Cherry Beach Sound in Toronto.

Michael first met James (Jamie) in 1988, when the band he was in toured in the rural Alberta town Michael was living in. Jamie was only 16 years old at the time, and playing in a Deep Purple tribute. Because of his age, he had to be escorted on and off the stage in the bars where he was playing. His band eventually changed their name to “Sweet Lucy”. who became one of the top touring cover bands in Western Canada from the late 80’s through the 90’s. He eventually was hired to play for Wide Mouth Mason.


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