Though it’s really only 50% new–three tracks appeared on the band’s previously distributed demo–Welcome Home is a, ahem, welcome step forward for Storyline, and further proof that the band is not One Star Story Mach II.
Bringing singer/co-songwriter Ashley Morgan into the fold gave the band more pop chops than its previous incarnation, and it’s served the group well. Any one of the six songs on the album could reasonably get rock-radio play–“Eerily & Hauntingly” practically demands it–though “Give Chase” is almost too saccharine in parts. What’s impressive about Welcome Home is that the rest of the band found ways to balance the pop-rock equation with more rock. Guitarists Zack Person and Bryant Babbitt deserve particular credit for giving the sound an edge upgrade over the demo; give Jeff Smith at Studio 2100 a healthy dollop, as well, for harnessing it. The rhythm section of bassist Mike Duvall and drummer Geno Valloni bring cohesion and muscle to the blend and practically making the title track their own in the process. “Eerily & Hauntingly” uses a more conservative recording mix, particularly with the drums–more cymbals, please–but rocks with equal vigor.
“Vigor” is the key word here; it makes all the difference between Storyline’s previous recordings and the six found on Welcome Home, and it’s the difference between being a good pop-rock band, as on the their demo, and one to watch as they are here. Though they still teeter to one side or the other from time to time, Storyline’s ability to walk the line between pop and rock can be heard gaining confidence and assuredness. Each stride it makes is longer than before.