[AltWire Review] Fastball celebrates 20th anniversary with ‘Step Into Light’

When someone mentions the band Fastball, I’m sure the first thing that pops into anyone’s head is their 1998 hit single “The Way,” from their breakthrough album All The Pain Money Can Buy.

Since then, the group has been putting out albums and singles with their latest, Step Into Light, being released May 19 on the band’s own label, 33 ⅓ Records. This album shows that, even though it’s been over 20 years since their first album was released, these guys can still put out something solid.

“We aren’t much of a concept-album type band,” Fastball vocalist/bassist Tony Scalzo told AltWire in an interview. “We build our albums song by song, and there was a batch of songs that we had together for this album, and most of them made it onto this record and some of them didn’t.”

The album opens with “We’re On Our Way,” which is made up of a groovy, catchy guitar riff that works well over a steady beat. This track works well to set up the rest of the album, which is filled with all sorts of diverse sounds.

The second track on the album, “Best Friend,” is a pretty self-explanatory album talking about the endless possibilities and magic of having – or being – someone’s best friend. Tony Scalzo’s voice during the chorus gives it sort of an ‘80s synth-rock sound that works well over the steady rhythm.

Moving on, “I Will Never Let You Down” is a cool, groovy-sounding pop rock tune about not letting someone down. I feel like I can really relate to the lyrics of the chorus: “I’m not too pretty once you reach the nitty-gritty / I’m not the nicest guy in town / I might forget what I say, but at the end of the day / I will never let you down.”

The title track, “Step Into The Light,” comes in the middle of the album. It’s a slower song that, according to Scalzo, is a “self-reflection type song where you start thinking ‘Maybe I don’t need all this stuff that I thought I needed back when I was younger.’”

“I think it just means trimming the fat,” Scalzo said. “As older men, I think that we value things that we never thought we would back when we were young rock-and-rollers. We’re middle-aged rock-and-rollers now, with a lot more perspective on life.”

Another standout on the album is “Secret Agent Love:” A fun, upbeat song about secretly falling in love. The last track on the album, “French And The punk,” starts off with a beautiful guitar riff. When Zuniga comes in with his deep voice, the track begins to sound like something my parents would have listened to on their old record player.

“Musically, it’s a great departure from the rest of the record,” Scalzo said. “I think that’s awesome. It’s got a sort of light-hearted, almost like a scene from a movie, with made-up characters.”

It’s been eight years since Fastball put out an album, until now. Step Into Light is a great follow-up to All The Pain Money Can Buy, sporting a diverse range of fun, groovy tracks. The album is in stores May 19.

Fastball is currently on tour with Everclear and Vertical Horizon. For a list of tour dates, visit www.fastballtheband.com, and check back for our full interview with Tony Scalzo.

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