Rufus Black’s debut album Rise Up has a track list that is both tight and crisp in performance, arrangement, and structure. It consists of fresh originals interwoven with familiar covers that have surprising twists. Rise Up is sure to grab the fan base of quite a variety of other bands such as ZZ Top, Muse, Elbow, and The Zombies, to name a few.
The versatility in the opening track “Shut Up” prefaces the range that Rufus Black will display in the remaining nine songs. It begins with an almost jazzy drum fill, followed by two guitars, one heavy and affected, and the other with a cleaner tone. Each instrument introduced suggests a different decade. When the chorus hits, “Shut Up” becomes defined as a modern song with an early Beatl-y vibe. Guitar solos throughout have an almost surf rock feel. The harmonies in “Shut Up” are a welcomed surprise, and add to the fun and light feel of the song.
The mix of the entire album is a welcomed departure from what is typically heard on the radio in 2017. Not only does its brightness offer a very vintage feel, but the lead vocals are far back in the mix, portraying Condor’s voice as an ambient piece in the instrumentation. These elements make the album seem live, raw, and authentic, despite the crisp tone and rhythm of all instruments.
The covers are intriguing and span from The Isley Brothers’ 1969 hit “It’s Your Thing” all the way to The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face.” The former offers a fresh take on a familiar tune, however it remains mostly unchanged from the original. In the first few seconds, it’s pretty clear where they are going with this, as if homage were being paid. On the other hand, “Can’t Feel My Face” is almost unrecognizable even during the chorus, and with a title as memorable and unusual as “Can’t Feel My Face,” obscuration is an art in itself.
Gavin Condor’s voice, though both emotional and gritty, has a softness about it that nicely contrasts the intensity of the supporting instruments. He has the kind of voice that you could listen to in any given mood, and in any given genre you seek.
Rufus Black gets off to a great start with their debut album. The hints of genre crossing that display great versatility and musicianship amongst the group tease all of the possibilities for future albums. Rise Up is an exciting album that will surely speak to a wide variety of listeners.
The Review: 8/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Shut Up
– I Just Want To Make Love To You
– Can’t Feel My Face
– Make A Move
– Rise Up
The Big Hit
– Rise Up
Review by Alexandra Veltri