There’s a sweetness to Patrick Sieben’s voice and it leaves a firm imprint on the big pop-rock that he performs on Awakening. It’s what Kevin Cronin of REO Speedwagon did, and still does, so well. “Tomorrow in Your Eyes” and “For the Last Time,” with their great hooks, are straight from that playbook. Sieben’s own “Diamond” has a good arrangement that allows him to deliver arena-ready crescendos. It’s that very retro feel that makes this CD interesting. Here you have a young singer-songwriter, recently graduated from the University of Denver with a Bachelor of Music degree, referring back to an era when ”St. Elmo’s fire (Man in Motion)” was burning brightly at the top of the charts, and Richard Marx introduced us to his superb talent for writing glorious melodies. The guitar solos pay homage and modernize at the same time. The confusing part is the inclusion, at least for this release, of Sieben’s original “Kinda Girl”; the sleek jazzy pop leading him close to nondescript territory. It is totally out of place here, and the bonus track acoustic version adds no new perspective to a nice solo debut filled with a style of music as enjoyable and important now as it was then.
—Ellen Geisel (Ballston Lake, NY)