Kent Hilli — Nothing Left To Lose (Frontiers)

Former semi-pro footballer Kent Hilli chose to tackle the tricky art of AOR a little later in life.

But given the depth of emotion in an exceptional voice it was no ill-advised shot in the dark.

And if Hilli’s goal was to emulate Survivor, Foreigner, Toto et al then he’s within touching distance of another deserved underdog victory.

Up front with Perfect Plan before he was brought off the bench to spearhead reformed Nashville gems Giant, this is his second solo album.

But Nothing Left To Lose is more than a match for 2021’s richly rewarding The Rumble.

That one-time Rushonrock Record Of The Week paired Hilli with the mercurial Michael Palace.

And the multi-talented duo delivered a memorable deep dive into what made 80s AOR so addictively uplifting first time around.

Nothing Left To Lose uses the same tactics to usher in the second half of Hilli’s dazzling solo career.

Yet again the singer’s pin-sharp performance is faultless from start to finish.

Think Jimi Jamison, Michael Bolton, Richard Marx — Hilli has the range and the confidence to compete with all three and more.

Moving the career goalposts might have seemed like a gamble way back when.

But Swedish star Hilli was right to swap the main stand for the mic stand.

On this evidence, melodic rock’s answer to Zlatan Ibrahimovic is moving into the big leagues.

Has Hilli Peaked?

Appropriately, the meat of this AOR masterpiece belongs slap bang in the middle of Nothing Left To Lose.

Skip to track six and the Journey-styled Stronger allows Hilli to tale a memorable trip down memory lane — to a time when melodic rock ruled the FM radio airwaves.

A typically tenacious vocal is married to Alexander Jonsson’s classic keys on a superbly crafted tune.

Next up it’s Does He Love Like Me, featuring a sax turn oozing retro cool.

Oleg Lavrentev threatens to steal the show as he underpins another dazzlingly radiant summer anthem.

And then it’s time for Jimmy Hedlund to take centre stage.

The Falconer and Temple six stringer drops the most stunning solo here on Start It All Over.

And Hedlund’s back for more on sumptuous set closer Only Dreaming — a David Coverdale-meets-meets-Joe Lynn Turner twist on the Hilli template.

Of course, Nothing Left To Lose wouldn’t be complete without a welcome return for Palace.

And Frontiers’ king of melodic rock crowns another AOR triumph by adding his guitars and backing vocals to Saving Us and Heard It All Before.

The latter rings reassuringly true where Hilli and Palace are concerned.

In fact the nuanced Nothing Left To Lose echoes The Rumble in so many respects.

But it provides compelling evidence that Hilli has kicked on.

That goal of emulating the melodic rock greats is very much within his grasp.

Check out Rushonrock’s Melodic Rock Albums of 2022 here.