Right Where I Belong
It's Not Me
Let Me Go
Landing In London
The Real Life
Behind Those Eyes
Never Will I Break
Live For Today
Here By Me
February 8, 2005
into this album, I had a lot of mixed feelings and expectations. 3 Doors
Down is a classic rock-type band with a bit of a Southern influence, a
sound that usually has great appeal to me. Their first record, "The
Better Life", was a good outing that left me impressed. I thought,
for a new artist, these guys held a lot of promise for a very bright future;
and I eagerly anticipated their next effort. When I heard that second
lp, "Away From The Sun", I found a lot to like, but I was also
disappointed that it was not a more complete record. Much like their debut,
the good songs were very good, and the others were just there. So, with
this third full length record, the boys have yet another chance to put
together a complete album from start to finish. Let's see if they did
it, shall we?
When I threw this disc in, I was hoping to find my Album Of The Year.
I know this band is capable of writing great songs. If you took the best
of "The Better Life", and the best from "Away From The
Sun", and put them on one record, . . . you'd have a superb package
of potent songs. Songs like "When I'm Gone", "Loser"
and "Kryptonite" are excellent tracks that are found floating
among only average compositions on their respective records. I wanted
this band to do it. I wanted this to be the over the top collection that
would blow me away. Well, this still isn't the one; and let me tell you
Doors Down has a songwriting formula that is very traditional. They tend
to stick close to the standard "start slow and quiet, and pummel
them with the chorus" formula. In fact, they stick a little too close
to it. I love this type of songwriting, I'm a sucker for it; but when
you use it for 90% of the tracks on the disc, it gets a bit tiring. With
this record they consistently use the formula, but it isn't quite as overbearing
here as it was on the first two discs. The other aspect of this band that
gets a bit tiring is the repetitive vocal tone. Singer Brad Arnold has
a decent sound, but the range and style hardly ever varies, creating a
somewhat flat playing field. There are not a whole lot of peaks and valleys
in the vocal aspect of the band's sound. With all of that said, I will
also say that this is probably the band's best effort.
As soon as the disc starts rolling, we get a rough and tough, two and
a half minute rocker that blows your doors off. "Right Where I Belong"
doesn't fit into the typical 3DD formula. This doesn't approach quietly,
and then strike; this tune comes out swinging right from the in-your-face
opening riff. With Arnold ushering in the guitar solo at the end of the
track with a Skynyrd-like "Go on, play it for me, son!" - this
is what the band needs to do more of. A little variation from the norm
is a good thing, and in this case a very good thing. The band reverts
back to the security of their "slow approach, pummeling chorus"
quickly though. "It's Not Me" is the first in a string of the
next six tracks that desperately cling to that recurring song structure
that is so prominent in the 3DD repertoire. It's not until we reach "Never
Will I Break" that we get something a little different. In that string
of six tracks we do have some winners though. "Behind Those Eyes"
is a great song that utilizes all of the band's strong points, even though
the song structure remains predictable. "It's Not Me", along
with the first single from the album, "Let Me Go", are strong
songs with a certain likeability that 3DD seems to tap into often somehow.
Even though all their songs are the same, you want to like these guys.
Strange. There are a fair amount of weak tracks here also, though. "Landing
In London", which features Bob Seger as a guest vocalist, falls short
on many counts. The song is typical, and it also never really develops
into anything. And, as much as I like Bob Seger, this is the last guy
that this band needed to sing. They could've used a high flying tenor,
or possibly even a female voice to offset Arnold's tone. Seger and Arnold
are very much alike, and there really is no magic that happens. It also
doesn't help that the song is close to sounding like Seger's classic "Turn
After "Never Will I Break" we're treated to two more winners.
"Father's Son" and "Live For Today" are two of the
best tracks on the record. "Father's Son" is effective because
of the lyrical delivery. The lyrics "Maybe I'm just crazy or the
devil got inside/ But either way my soul is gone, I've learned this all
night/The one hand throws the whiskey, and the other throws the gun/As
he cries out to the heavens, I am not my father's son" are delivered
with a truthful, sincere feel that makes the song highly effective. "Live
For Today", ironically, gets its strength from the vocal performance.
Arnold reaches deep inside for this one, and extends his vocal capabilities
considerably. This is, by far, the most passionate he has ever sounded.
The album finishes on a bit of a sour note. "My World", is a
"run of the mill" track that we hear all too much of from this
band. One of those songs that's "just there". 3 Doors Down has
way too many of those already. And then comes the proverbial slamming
of the door with the inevitable radio ballad "Here By Me". Look
out Kidz Bop, here comes 3 Doors Down again. Yeah, this is a perfect example
of how popularity of a certain song can kill a band. Just like "Here
Without You" was "Be Like That" - Part 2, they are obviously
writing Part 3 with "Here By Me". This song comes out sounding
forced, but you know what . . . the kiddies will love it.
Supposedly, the title of the record comes from the amount of time they
took to write the material for the record. They had originally set aside
five weeks to write songs for the CD, but much of that time went by the
wayside after Hurricane Ivan tore through the band's studio, and guitarist
Chris Henderson's father died. The title refers to the 17 days of writing
that the band was left with to keep a February 2005 release date. As Henderson
put it, "We had to start working 24-hour shifts in the studio. And
believe me, it's hard to get rock musicians to be anywhere at 7 a.m.,
but we got it done." Uh, . . . yeah, . . . I guess.
So, ...I didn't get the record I was hoping for, that's for sure. What
I did get is about half an album of really good tunes from this band,
. . . again. I can't help but think that they should've pushed the release
date forward just one month, to March 2005, and maybe named the album
"Thirty-Five Days"; then I might've gotten the album that I've
been waiting for.