Above and Beyond – “We Are All We Need” 
With years in the making, one of dance music’s biggest acts brings in a new album for the new year. The trio; Tony, Paavo and Jono, set out to make an album that you won’t soon forget. This isn’t your normal dance album. This album is deep, emotional and full of breath and life. In one word, this album is fantastic on all merits.
In a very divided music scene, the EDM world has been rocked with a bombardment of progressive house and “festival” styled tunes. In the ideals of pushing what dance music can bring, Above and Beyond are there every step of the way in pushing those limits even further. Not only are these songs full of emotional rides, but they feature even instruments that you normally wouldn’t find in a dance music track. Using instruments such as electric bass, guitars and even orchestral strings, they manage to find a sound that resonates on so many levels to a listener.
You can tell the group took an enormous amount of time perfecting the finest details of every track. They even take more of a back seat than you would normally hear in a dance music track. They allow the featured vocalists to ring through and shine in their own light. Alex Vargas takes over from Richard Bedford on vocal duties on the male side of things. The female vocalists round out with usual collaborator Zoe Johnston and Justine Suissa from Oceanlab fame returns for a track. New to the group collaboration lineup is Gemma Hayes, providing a soft, breathy and ethereal sound, perfect for the uplifting themes they strive to showcase.
“We Are All We Need” is full of amazing music, ranging in various styles mixed into each track. You’ll only find two instrumentals on this track (one of which uses a vocal sample, so it’s technically more of a hybrid than an instrument).
The album begins with “Quieter Is Louder” with the same idea of “Small Moments” from 2014. It’s pure purpose was to be written as an introduction tune, with soft pianos and backing synths, but it does it’s job well as setting up the feel of the rest of the album. That goes into the title track (sort of) with “We’re All We Need”, with a great theme and a grand piano featured. “Blue Sky Action” is one of the staples of the album and became a fan favorite over the last half year when it was debuted. “Blue Sky Action” is Alex Vargas’ first feature on the album and hits it off with a bang. Below I will set up a few of the tunes from the album. There’s sixteen total tracks on the album, so I will only go over a few of them and let you explore the rest.
Next up is one of my favorites, if not THE favorite tune from the album. “Peace of Mind” offers all you could want in an A&B album. Zoe’s job on vocals is perfected and the emotional levels you feel during the breakdown and chorus are astounding. Coming right off the heals of that is my second favorite of the album, “Counting Down The Days” with Gemma Hayes on vocals. Between this and “Peace of Mind”, it’s hard to nail a favorite tune, they are both so well done. “Counting Down The Days” has such a catchy hook and lyric writing. Gemma provides a brilliant vocal that reminds me of a soothing angel singing. Her voice is so soothing, natural and soft. You can’t help but love her vocal style.
“Hello” and “Out of Time” are the only two instrumental tracks. The album version of “Hello” features instruments you normally wouldn’t find on a dance album. It also features a bassline similar to what you could hear in classic 80’s movie soundtracks (I’m looking at you Axel Foley). “Out of Time” is more of your typical club oriented fanfare. Big build ups and gigantic themes and pianos. “Little Something” is also a notable entry. This tune marks the return of Justine Suissa to the group (singer from Oceanlab). She has been much wanted by fans for years to do another project with Tony, Paavo and Jono. Here, they delivered with as much delight as one could expect. It’s a very well rounded track and is perfect for Justine’s vocal style.
“Sticky Fingers” is easily one of the more electro sounding tracks on the album. Hard and harsh basslines mixed with the soothing trance pads and strings as well as Alex’s vocal placements. “Fly To New York” is another tune featuring the great Zoe Johnston. This is another favorite from the album. Her vocal style is perfect for this track. There are so many different elements in this. You’ll hear classic Rhode pianos, guitars and even an electric bass. This is, hands down, one of the highlights of the album.
To sum it up, this album was highly anticipated and hyped and for good cause. Above and Beyond are known for writing music that not only moves your feet, but your heart and your soul. This album has delivered on all counts. Everything you could want from the album, is here. Above and Beyond has taken the time, care and patience to record, what I could call, one of the best dance music albums I’ve heard in the last few years. They had a high bar already set by Group Therapy. What they’ve done here, is take that bar and jumped well over it. If you’re looking for a great dance music album, or even just a great album, look no further. This is as perfect of an album as you can find. Great music, great lyrical writing and exceptional vocalists featured throughout. I would highly recommend this album to anyone who appreciates great music.
01. Quieter Is Louder
02. We Are All We Need feat. Zoe Johnston
03. Blue Sky Action feat. Alex Vargas
04. Peace of Mind feat. Zoe Johnston
05. Counting Down The Days feat. Gemma Hayes
06. Sticky Fingers feat. Alex Vargas
08. Little Something feat. Justine Suissa
09. All Over The World feat. Alex Vargas
10. Fly To New York feat. Zoe Johnston
11. Making Plans feat. Alex Vargas
12. Out Of Time
14. Save Me feat. Zoe Johnston
15. Sink The Lighthouse feat. Alex Vargas
16. Treasure feat. Zoe Johnston
We’re All We Need
Peace of Mind
Counting Down The Days
Fly To New York
Blue Sky Action
Least Favorite Tracks:
10 out of 10. Fantastic album. Highly recommended.