Rise, Tom Keifer’s second solo album, pulls at both sides of his previous effort, The Way Life Goes. Gritty songs are a bit harder and more riff-driven. Introspective songs delve deeper, both musically and in subject matter. Believability provides a backstop to sounds that may feel welcome, outdated or completely foreign, depending on the audience. Keifer’s vision and voice eschew contemporary sounds, instead opting for the late ‘80s sonic template and his uniquely honest songwriting.
“Touching The Divine” wafts its way into a hard slide-crash, quickly melding with Keifer’s scorching vocals. Drums and bass vie for space, but eventually coalesce to flesh out a rugged, rock groove. “The Death of Me” follows a similar blueprint, focusing on its rawness. Guitars grind and vocals soar against an anti-angelic chorus that saturates the background.
“Waiting on The Demons” changes gears and displays Keifer’s acoustic sensibilities. It’s an honest song and the open verse highlights his voice. “Hype” and the immediately-following “Untitled” song, shift back into harder guitar passages, with the latter culminating in an enjoyable progression and payoff. Placed directly in the middle of the album, “Rise” touches upon glam rock balladry. Within the song itself, there is an instrumental break that threatens to take a descending chord progression into a different vein, but Keifer brings it back in a flourishing return. The tune is also notable in that there is tonal variation between harder rock, and softer, more expressive verses. Other songs tend to fall into either category, but not both.
The tracks are well written and covered with tactile sound. Keifer’s heavy, slide-laden guitar determines much of the musical direction, but there is also room for a couple heartfelt songs that close the set. Piano based, “Taste For The Pain,” slowly leads into the end of the album, pushed along by a prominent drum cadence and ending with Keifer half-stating, half-asking, “You think that you’re one of a kind.” “You Believe In Me” closes the collection with a similar tone of reflection and maturity that help to distinguish this album from earlier career efforts.
Nonetheless, opinions of Rise will likely be determined in some part by the listener’s view of late ‘80’s rock and roll. The writing and the lyrics are far more carefully considered and constructed than work from former vehicles such as Cinderella, but there is no mistaking as to where Keifer’s roots lie. Fans of the genre will likely give the album multiple spins, whereas those not inclined to the style might not make it all the way through. That would be a shame. Nothing is held back. The raw emotion and veracity alone warrant an open-minded listening. Adding to that, there are some great songs and moments that can be appreciated no matter ones musical leanings.
The Review: 7.5/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Touching The Divine
– The Death Of Me
– You Believe In Me
The Big Hit
– The Death Of Me
Review by Willie Witten