Published on November 7th, 2016 | by Justin G.
Well, we didn’t have to wait quite as long for Mecca’s third album as we did for their second, but five years is a pretty long wait between albums. This album, simply titled 3, was a real labor of love for band leader and vocalist Joe Vana, who meticulously oversaw its development. Vana is an unapologetic disciple of classic AOR bands like Survivor and Toto, and has worked with members of both groups, so 3 reflects that influence in a big way.
Mecca has always carried that classic AOR vibe, thanks to Vana’s ultra-smooth vocal performances and the combination of gorgeous guitar work and pristine production. With 3, they take that to a whole new level. It has jaw-dropping instrumental performances, particularly the guitar work and lush keyboards, powerful, soulful vocals and a refreshingly old school production that’s the antithesis of today’s Pro-tooled cut-and-paste approach. Hearing these songs you absolutely understand why this album was so long in the making.
If there’s a downside here, it’s that Mecca sounds way more Toto than Survivor on 3. Not that sounding like Toto is a bad thing (far from it), but part of what made Mecca and Undeniable so instantly accessible were catchy melodic rockers like “Velocitized” and “Perfect World.” The melodies are subtler here, so while 3 absolutely wins you over, it does take a few spins. Some of that Survivor-style instant gratification might have helped. That’s a minor gripe though. Whatever effort it takes to let these songs sink in pays off in a big way.
At just eight songs and totaling just under 34 minutes, 3 is a very brief album, but all eight songs are impeccably crafted and there isn’t a trace of filler here. “Take My Hand,” “Alone” and “Let It Go” are highlights, but this whole experience is going to be a true joy for fans of Toto, Work of Art, Find Me, State of Salazar, Sonic Station and classic, lighter-edged AOR in general.
Summary: Eight tracks of Toto-inspired AOR bliss.