Dennis DeYoung made his mark in rock history as Styx’s dynamic front man; his voice and lyrics forever immortalized in songs like “Babe” and “Come Sail Away”. It’s been over a decade since DeYoung has performed live with his Styx bandmates, and although it may have taken some time, the singer is once again making a big splash in the music scene with One Hundred Years from Now. The bottom line on this album is that Dennis DeYoung still has the pipes. The bar was set high during his commercial peak, but Dennis delivers in this effort as the incredible singer and songwriter that he is. Rockers and ballads, intricate keyboard solos and powerful vocal harmonies – it’s all here. The songs are all fresh, but at the same time bursting with elements of Styx as the passion in DeYoung’s voice makes one wonder if it’s 1977 again. He rocks harder than ever before in this release, which is one of his best works to date. The review below is of the Canadian version, which does not include the two bonus tracks on the forthcoming American version: Private Jones, and There Was a Time.
The album begins with the title track, and while the intro is laced with tender keyboards and an accordion, don’t be fooled. The chorus and bridge of “One Hundred Years from Now” makes it clear that pounding keyboards and driving guitars will be the dominant force on the album. The Canadian release of this song was a duet between DeYoung and Eric Lapointe, who sang his parts mainly in French, but the American release features only DeYoung. Powerful vocals and an inspired guitar solo make this song a perfect start to the album. A punchy bass line and snarling guitars characterize “This Time Next Year“, a bombastic rocker where Dennis’ full vocal range is utilized. The chorus harmony in this song is very reminiscent of classic Styx, and it’s very catchy to boot. “Rain” is a moody song driven by aggressive drums and featuring a very modern sounding bridge. On “Save Me“, a mid-tempo track that transforms from a ballad into a rocker, Dennis oozes emotion and passion throughout – it’s a song that sends chills up your spine. Surprisingly, “Breathe Again” is the album’s only true ballad. Dedicated to wife Suzanne, the song has a very classic 1970s feel to it, particularly noticeable in the Babe-esque keyboards and vocal harmonies.
Clocking in at nearly six minutes long, “Crossing the Rubicon” is an epic and diverse piece. The first half of the song is marked by airy keyboards and acoustic guitar, while the second half rocks out with Dennis engaged in a lyrical rap before the guitar solo inevitably takes over. “Suite Madame Blue” comes to mind as the song closes out with that famous high pitch synthesizer note. “Respect Me” is a simply outstanding song. With its silky strings and provocative guitars, it will be in heavy rotation on the CD players of most listeners. (Note that this track is only available on the Canadian release)
“I Believe in Love” is one of those love songs that only Dennis can create; its a reminder of his writing talent and his vocal ability. As it opens with a funky beat, “Forgiveness” immediately catches the listener’s attention. The song is layered with heavy guitar riffs and soulful vocals from Dennis. A hint of country emerges on “I Don’t Believe in Anything“, a light song with a Nashville guitar sound, in which Dennis takes note of how things have changed over the years and even questions: “How the hell’d I get this age?” The album won’t end without a fight – “Turn off CNN” has a theme similar to the previous song, but instead takes its message into a heavy, guitar driven rocker. With a blistering guitar solo and crashing keyboards, it’s an instant favorite.
When the album saw a Canadian release in 2007, it’s first single, the title track, shot up to #1 in Quebec and prompted seven sold out shows in Montreal. Tomorrow the album will be released in the United States, and with its ability to please both halves of the divided Styx camp, it will undoubtedly be very successful. Bridges may have been burned to prevent any further collaboration between DeYoung and Styx, but with an album like this it’s hard to imagine how a fan of the Styx catalog could be unhappy. Pick up the album tomorrow and keep an eye out for tour dates in your area this summer as Dennis will be hitting the road.