January 22, 2021 Bill Champlin – Livin’ For Love (Album Review)
If you take a moment to think about it, a heck of a lot of great singer-songwriters emerged from the ’70s Rock scene. Of course you had Elton John, James Taylor, and Jackson Browne, but there were also others like Dan Fogelberg, Carly Simon, and Joni Mitchell. Just a few of the names that come to mind, let’s not forget Kenny Loggins, Stevie Nicks, as well as Bill Champlin.
Champlin, kicking his career into gear with Sons of Champlin, also co-penned a slew of hit songs for others; those of which include “After The Love Has Gone” for Earth, Wind & Fire and “Turn Your Love Around” for George Benson. Additionally, he was an intricate part of the rebranding of Chicago during the 1980s, leading vocals on big tracks such as “Hard Habit to Break,” “Look Away,” and “I Don’t Wanna Live Without Your Love.”
Now over a decade since Champlin and Chicago parted ways, one might ask, what has the the versatile singer-songwriter been up to? Well, in case you missed it, he has not slowed down all too much. Keeping busy, he has toured, recorded new music, including the stellar 2020 collaborative album Champlin, Williams, Friestedt II, and now returns in 2021 with a brand new solo effort, Livin’ For Love.
Released on Friday, January 22nd via the Washington DC based Imagen Records, it is Champlin’s first solo album in quite some time. A new label for him, it is an interesting landing spot considering their roster has previously leaned toward heavier Rock acts such as Framing Hanley and Separations, but also Journey’s Arnel Pineda. Needless to say it is commendable to see the indie label ink a deal with Champlin for the release of Livin’ For Love, because it is a pretty damn good album to dig your heels into.
Complete with 14 songs, running at just over an hour, Champlin runs the gambit of stylistic approaches that is all over the musical map. Kicking it off with the powerful single “Reason To Believe,” in truth, it sounds like something that could have very well been recorded with Chicago and probably been a hit! From here you have the bluesy “Especially Me,” retro groove of “Livin’ For Love,” and socially topical “Losin’ Ground.” Then there is also the funky “Hey” and “The Truth Has Begun,” but also the jazzy vibe of “Show Me.”
All lively and strong tracks, perhaps the most striking moment arrives with the mellow, piano driven “Another Lie.” A song that nearly anyone can relate to, whether it be the loss of love, or more tragically, the eternal loss of a loved one, it is an extremely powerful song from start to finish. And keeping with that more Soft Rock chill vibe, you have the beauty of “Stevie’s Song,” and the humble closing of “My Time” that reminds us that even after we’ve gone, life goes on.
Overall Champlin taps into an array of emotions with Livin’ For Love. Instrumentally smooth and well-produced, above it all, Champlin’s voice is right on, only feeding more energy into each lyric sung. You can tell that he is a man that has seen life, faced hard times, but is open-eyed and grateful for what he has in the here and now. Whether you are facing another day or facing something far more challenging, there is a song for every mood on Livin’ For Love. Proving the well has far from run dry for this often underappreciated songwriter, Cryptic Rock gives Bill Champlin’s Livin’ For Love 5 out of 5 stars.