Champlin Williams Friestedt - Carrie artwork

Champlin Williams Friestedt – Carrie (EP Review)

Bill Champlin, Joseph Williams, Pete Friestedt

Champlin Williams Friestedt, often known as CWF, is a band full of talent. Consisting of Bill Champlin (who was a huge part of Chicago’s success in the ‘80s), Joseph Williams (who fronted as lead vocalist of Toto from 1986 to 1988, 2010 to 2019, and again since 2020), along with Pete Friestedt (a masterful musician), there is little not to like about their teaming. First taking shape nearly a decade ago, through the years they have released their debut album in 2015, the 10 Miles EP in 2018, second album II in 2020, and now return in 2023 with the EP Carrie.

Released on May 5th via the label Sound Pollution, the new collection of songs finds the band picking up where they left off… and that is creating delightful Soft Rock. Consisting of six songs, one of which is a live recording, the EP has plenty of key components that make it what it is. For starters, it is produced by Friestedt and Champlin who masterfully capture a cool, relaxing mood.

Additionally, there are other exciting extras, which include the lead track, “Carrie” featuring Jason Scheff (also formerly of Chicago) teaming up with Champlin. Fitting, they feed off one another to present a song that would easily be a hit on radio; this is if modern radio actually gave mature, adult Pop Rock attention. Additionally, the monster lead track features co-writing from Grammy award winning Songwriter Randy Goodrum.

Beyond this, the remainder of the EP flows like water; and this is from the delightful “Fly Away Now” all the way through to the live offering, “Pamela.”  In-between everything, you have the really beautiful tone of “The Last Unbroken Heart” (which features both Champlin and his lovely wife, Tamara, duetting), as well as the uplifting “Carry On,” and chill instrumental “Time Never Stops (Theme song for Swiss Timing)” (which also includes John JR Robinson on drums).

In all, Carrie is a great collection from CWF, plus a fitting follow up for II. It should also be noted that Champlin has remained rather prolific with his artistry, and this includes his solo album Livin’ For Love from 2021. This in mind, we can only hope that this Carrie EP is only a placeholder until the guys are ready to put out another full-length album. Reminding us that there is absolutely still a place for intelligent, well-crafted Soft Rock in today’s wild world, Cryptic Rock gives Carrie 5 out of 5 stars. 

Champlin Williams Friestedt - Carrie art
Champlin Williams Friestedt – Carrie / Sound Pollution (2023)

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