It has, on all levels, been an eventful time for Pretty Maids’ singer Ronnie Atkins, this past year. He received a fateful judgement called lung cancer, and us fans wondered if we would ever hear him sing again. Pretty Maids ended up in a winterlike dormancy and it all looked pretty dark. Then, out of nowhere, came a glimmer of light when the soundtrack project At The Movies, featuring three formed Pretty maids members, presented a new song featuring Ronnie on vocals. And, he sounded just like he should! Ronnie has always written music, but all has ended up under the Pretty Maids umbrella, but now it was time to unleash the music under his own flag. Unfortunately, the Corona pandemic had the world in its grasp and to put together a band, rehearse and record, like in the “old” days, was just not possible. Plus, he also had the degree of uncertainty of not knowing if he would be well enough to finish recording, or even to see it released. A feeling I simply can’t fathom. But, with the aid of Pretty Maids colleague Chris Laney and the members of At The Movies the songs were realized. Besides Chris, who has also produced and arranged the album, Ronnie’s former colleagues; drummer Allan Sørensen and keyboard player Morten Sadager also play on the album. The mixing was also handled by a familiar name: Jacob Hansen. The production is first class with a big and dynamic sound. Even though you shouldn’t expect a new Pretty Maids album, this is not that far from Ronnie’s old domain. The de-tuned riffs and heavy songs may not be here, but you feel right at home in the melodic rock areas. Having in mind what Ronnie has gone through, and IS going through, this could have been a very dark and gloomy album. I’ve always loved Ronnie’s quite mostly intricate and meaningful lyrics. On this album there are no meaningless and empty rock ‘n roll and party lyrics. Every song on “One Shot” has some type of meaning, some more clear than others. The betrayal he has felt from people close to him shines through in songs like “Scorpio” and “Subjugate”, the unruly world around us is portrayed in “Picture Yourself”, while songs like “Real”, “I Prohesize” and “One By One” are various part of a type of declaration of life, his life as it is and what he has been going through. The title track declares that this is just what we have in life – “One Shot”. Then there are the declarations of love for his wife, in “Miles Away” and “Frequency Of Love”. What sometimes strikes me as a big paradox, is the way Ronnie takes a happy and hummable chorus and puts some really dark lyrics on it. A prime example would be “Subjugated”, where the happy go lucky melodies carry lyrics about not wanting to be oppressed and subjugated. Brilliant! “Real”, “I Prophesize” and “One By One” are more like different parts of Ronnie’s views on life and “One Shot” says just what it is – we have one shot on the life we lead. Then there are the pure and simple love declarations “Miles Away” and “Frequency Of Love”. The fact that Ronnie is every day fighting his lung cancer cannot be heard in a single phrase or note. His voice is stronger and clearer than ever and the power oozes out of the speakers. Although I said it may not musically be as heavy as in Pretty Maids, it doesn’t mean that this is a pop record. Far from it. In songs like ”Before The Rise Of An Empire”, ”One By One”, ”I Prophesize” and “Scorpio” there are definitely no compromises when it comes to heavy guitars. This is of course blended with the strong melodies. There are also the more lightweight, catchy and almost poppy songs “Picture Yourself”, and not least the opening track “Real” and “Frequency Of Love”. There’s also the powerful semi-ballad with the bombastic chorus, in this case, the title track itself. It may seem impossible to compete against the classic Pretty Maids albums, but after a few spins of “One Shot” I have to admit that it definitely gives the later days Pretty Maids albums a fair run for their money. It also proves, Ronnie has the power and ability to stand on his own legs, and we hope it will be for a foreseeable future. Strong song material, first class production, outstanding vocals and great musicians.
PS: I do have to complain about one thing, though, and this is not on Ronnie, but whoever did and/or approved the layout for the vinyl should be reprimanded for the sloppy work. You can’t just take the text frames from the CD artwork and paste them in without doing a proper layout. While it looks great on the CD, here it looks sloppy, nothing matches, hard to read and follow and simply – cheap, which is not what you expect when you pay big bucks for a vinyl edition. The vinyl master is also an area I need to address. The mastering is slightly muddy and very low in level. I however can’t say if that’s the mastering or just a bad pressing. The vinyl itself was very wobbly and the hole in the middle too small, so it may be a case of bad quality vinyl pressing. Sorry, but this had to be addressed.