Some collaborations do take time to mature and to come into fruition. In the case of James LaBrie and Paul Logue, it took 11 years for their album to finally be concluded. Their story began in 2011, when James lent his voice to a song called “No Holy Man”, from Paul‘s band, UK melodic metal outfit Eden’s Curse. The pair remained in touch through the years, and the idea of making an album together was always in the back of their minds.
Fast forward to 2020, and with the extra time on their hands due to the pandemic, the opportunity to finally write an album together seemed too good to be missed. The songs started to take shape without any specific genre in mind, although the initial intention was to explore acoustic-driven themes. The end result is called “Beautiful Shade Of Grey”, and presents different aspects of humanity. In James‘ words: “A lot of these lyrics are dealing with the beauty of human beings, and a lot are dealing with the grey areas of the in between. You’re not exactly happy, but you’re not exactly sad, either.”
Musically, the album aptly showcases a wide array of influences from these seasoned musicians, and pays homage to their heroes. Shades of Deep Purple, Queen, Led Zeppelin, Styx, Journey and many others can be heard on the eleven tracks of “Beautiful Shade of Grey”. Completing the lineup we have guitarist Marco Sfogli, who’s contributed on all of LaBrie’s solo albums since 2005’s “Elements of Persuasion”, Eden’s Curse keyboardist Christian Pulkkinen and James’ son Chance on drums.
The record starts off (and ends) with the track “Devil In Drag”, which emerges as a wall of synthesizers and acoustic strumming before exploding into a full-blown ensemble. LaBrie, who wrote all the lyrics on the album except for “Wildflower”, expresses that the song was written about “someone who started out as a decent human being, but along the way lost touch with their roots – overtime becoming self-serving, narcissistic and devoid of principles or values.” Going on to say, “’Devil In Drag’ is written from the perspective of someone who’s known them all their life and, seeing them now, asking ‘what happened?’”
Other early tracks like the adventurous and lovelorn “SuperNova Girl” and the uproarious self-revelation of “Hit Me Like A Brick” are eager to come to blows with false pretenses, be they felt with a romantic interest or from within. On the enduring melancholy of “Sunset Ruin”, LaBrie pays remembrance to his late brother, who passed from pancreatic cancer in 2016.
Sonic Perspectives collaborator Rodrigo Altaf has been a Dream Theater fan since 1995, and had the chance to sit down with James to discuss his new solo album, the band’s current “Top of the World Tour”, what it feels like to play with his son, the band’s reactions to their recent Grammy award, what transpired behind the scenes when Mike Portnoy recently attended a Dream Theater show in New York, and much more. Listen to their chat on the links below and remember that for more interviews and other daily content, make sure to follow Sonic Perspectives on Facebook, Flipboard and Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified about new interviews and contents we publish on a daily basis.