[Album Review] Terra Rosa - (1989) Honesty - 8/10
#1
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Artist: Terra Rosa
Release: Honesty (1989)
Rating: 8/10

Terra Rosa's second album, Honesty, takes a surprising sound direction, just after the timeless music that was heard on The Endless Basis. This time, they go for a more streamlined production style, along with at least half of the songs being ballads of sorts. If you were expecting anything as heavy as "Vision of the Lake Bottom" or as hook-laden as "Petrouchka", then you'll be a tad disappointed. Rather than being just "good", this album still has its moments of quality. It's just that Terra Rosa went for a more hard rock-oriented sound on Honesty, and with guitarist Hiromi Suzuki replacing Yosuke Miyake, that's also another factor in sound.

"ME 262" is a short instrumental that functions a bit like Iron Maiden's "The Ides of March", albeit not as in-your-face with its marching drum intro. It's a small piece that serves to bridge the gap and connect to the next song, "Do You Go as You Are?". Really good song that has a nice bit of speed to it. The chorus is also catchy and memorable. Of course, it's still softer than, say, "One of Sections 'Lap'" off the last album, but it's not a stinker. "A Dream Won't Come True" takes it a few steps back, grooving around for about five minutes or so. Decent, but you'd much rather look forward to "Look for My Fancy", which has more of a Judas Priest vibe, and the key riff is very catchy stuff.

There's another slight setback, however, with "Love Is No Romance". This is sappy, commercial balladry right here. Again, it's not bad for its sense of melody and a tolerable level of accessibility, but I want to hear something more like "Fatima" or even "As Long as Our Lives". The next song, "Former Sisters", is another step back on track, as well as leading into the riff-crazy "Mr. Freelance". Now, like "ME 262", "Saint Elmo's Fire" is another short instrumental piece, albeit mellower in comparison. It's mostly just a bit of riff noodling over atmospheric keyboard tracks. The album is saved by the impressively epic "Evelyn", majestically written and performed with class. The first couple of minutes are rather mellow, but then it gets heavier with the drums kicking into full gear. Loads and loads of atmosphere here. Kazue Akao is at her most soulful moment on this stellar piece. Also, Jun Itakura's drumming and Koji Yamaguchi's bass playing work well together as a rhythm team. Masashi Okagaki's keyboard playing is also a bit intricate on this one.

This review may probably read like I'm disappointed by the album, but that's not really the case. It's actually very good, but this is not really the Terra Rosa that I think of too much. There are some great cuts that I've mentioned already, and I usually will feel like putting this album on. Again, keep in mind that The Endless Basis and Sase are much more preferable albums in my case, because they meticulously combine both heaviness and melody in adequate amounts. Honesty is more on the melodic spectrum, and there's nothing wrong with that. The production is also really solid on this one, but it does sound more geared towards huge fans of AOR and other softer-sounding music within rock. Nonetheless, there are still some heavy moments. I consider this more of an album to be in the mood for, and there's nothing wrong with that! I'm just personally glad that Terra Rosa beefed up their sound again afterwards. Not a bad debut on a new label after their previous one, anyway.
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#2
Totally agree with what you said about Evelyn, it's a true masterpiece! 
This album is different from The Endless Basis, but I love it a lot nonetheless.
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#3
My first few listens were very bittersweet. I wasn't really expecting this kind of thing at all, although I wouldn't have put it past them to come up with something this melodic and AOR-ish. I guess having listened to The Endless basis obsessively over the years spoiled me, so it took some time to grow. Honestly, if I wasn't a huge Terra Rosa fan, I'd probably subtract the rating by a point.

Glad you enjoyed this review. Smile
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#4
Good review, although I like "Former Sisters" a lot.

I've got a question about this album : who wrote the lyrics for the two 100% English songs "Mr.Freelance" and "Look for my Fancy" ? According to the album's leaflet, it is not Kazue Akao, but somebody else. But as I don't recognize every kanji, I am not able to 'translate' it.
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