This fall, legendary guitarist and former Eagle, Don Felder returned with his second solo album, “Road To Forever”. Released by Rocket Science Ventures, the record marks Felder’s first solo work since 1983’s “Airborne”.
In 2001, Felder separated from a near 30 year marriage to both his wife and The Eagles. “Road To Forever” plays like a sonic path to catharsis for the singer and guitarist. After a decade of writing his thoughts down on paper and translating those emotions into 26 new songs, Felder weeded those down to 16 songs, a dozen of which made the album’s final cut.
Despite the fact that Felder spent years being known as “the other Don,”( in reference to the band’s main vocalist, Don Henley), his impact on The Eagles sound becomes readily apparent listening to his solo work. Felder handled all the guitar work on this album with the exception of the title track, where Toto’s Steve Lukather shines his own light.
Felder co-produced the album with Robin Dimaggio (Paul Simon) after original production partner Greg Ladanyi died in a fall while in Greece. The album’s production is stellar: Crisp, clear, and not overdone.
Don will be the first to admit that his own vocals are not his real talent, but he uses them well here, and he surrounds the songs with so much depth and confidence that any minor flaws in his delivery are easily forgiven. He has become a man at ease in his own skin and that translates to his new album.
Simply put, “Road to Forever” slips on like an old pair of jeans: worn and familiar, and oh so comfortable. Right from the opening track “Fall From the Grace of Love”, there is that trademark guitar tone and signature melodic elegance that one identifies with The Eagles. Having his pals from Crosby, Still and Nash add their rapturous backing vocals doesn’t hurt either. In fact, the entire album is awash in wonderful harmony and backing vocals.
“Girls in Black” is built for the stage and rings of classic Eagles but has something of a Dire Straits meets ZZ Top vibe to it.
Tommy Shaw (Styx, Damn Yankees) lends his songwriting and vocals talents to “Wash Away the Pain”, a nice introspective number with a rolling groove that simply soars on the chorus. Keyboardist Timothy Drury and bassist Matt Bissonette (Rick Springfield, David Lee Roth) also had their hands in the mix on this one. Drury worked with Felder on a number of tracks for this album.
“I Believe in You” is a stunning ballad originally conceived for Michael Jackson, (though it sounds like pure Felder), while “Heal Me” is a brilliant and uplifting number. The latter once again features Shaw who co-writes and lays down sweet harmonies. The African tribal coda (originally meant to be a separate song) is a perfect finishing touch. Near the end is a sweet spiraling female vocal by Bahkiti Kamato who also played bass on the track.
Felder returns to his Eagles rock roots on “You Don’t Have Me” then opens a vein for the telling, “Over You”. Meanwhile, Randy Jackson (Journey, American Idol) gets into the melancholy groove of “Someday”.
The album’s title track features a who’s who guest list, including the aforementioned Lukather and his Toto cohorts, Steve Porcaro and David Paich, as well as master session bassist Leland Sklar (James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, and 100 others). A brief acoustic interlude and opening verse gives way to an uptempo rock parade. His daughter Leah Felder even adds background vocals to the mix.
The album closer, “Give My Life”, brings the album and perhaps Felder, full circle, with a track that would fit quite nicely on any Eagles album. It shows off his slide talents, offers up a graceful melody, and a lyrical message that could easily be for his loved ones, his fans, his country, his God. It’s a powerful message built around a rockin’ groove.
Don is not setting the world on fire here. Instead he’s taken that burning inside of his soul and built a cozy fire around which good company can sit, share a drink and a story, and simply be at peace. As Felder continues down his “Road To Forever” he has given us a brief glimpse of his journey; past, present, and perhaps–future.