Far removed from any connections to the contorted Jefferson Airplane family tree (most notably Grace Slick, since replaced by siren Stephanie Calvert), Mickey Thomas, a barroom belter at heart, shines on a Starship project practically defined by the writing and production of bassist Jeff Pilson (Dokken, Foreigner). While the songwriting owes a nod to the pop/metal aesthetic of Starship’s Love Among the Cannibals, the overall vibe is closer to 1979’s Freedom at Point Zero.
Thomas, who sang the biggest Starship hits, sounds reborn in these melodies. Tracks like “Technicolor Black and White” are blues-infused, Faces-meets-Def Leppard rockers in which Thomas simply soars, defying his 60-plus years, while ballads like “How Do You Sleep?” hold back just enough on the syrup to be lost to antiquation; whitewashed keyboards are traded in favor of jangly guitars and dexterous rhythms.
Starship doesn’t forget the arena-ready beatitudes, as evidenced by the stratospheric “You Never Know,” while the vocal brilliance of “Nothing Can Keep Me From You” is a gorgeous duet between Thomas and Calvert, a typically huge Diane Warren power ballad that caps off the album with bombastic, lip-quivering emotion.
Starship flies again, fueled by a steady surge of AOR ear candy and a fervent sense of soul not always associated with the band’s middle-of-the-road output.
– Mark Uricheck