Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Tom Keifer - The Way Life Goes

Tom Keifer
The Way Life Goes
Merovee Records

One of my favourite acts to emerge from the ‘80’s hard scene was Cinderella. Unlike a lot of acts back in the day, Cinderella weren’t afraid to include their blues and country influences into the familiar hard rock sound, and in doing so, it gave them a sound that was unlike almost every act on the scene.
But despite the success of their first three albums (1986’s self titled effort, 1988’s ‘Long Cold Winter’ and 1990’s ‘Heartbreak Station’), the grunge/alternative scene started making its mark at the turn of the new decade, and Cinderella’s fourth full-length effort ‘Still Climbing’ (1994) sank without so much as a trace. And when coupled with lead vocalist Tom Keifer’s throat problems (Nodules on his vocal cords led to paralysis of the left cord), it came as no surprise that the band split up for good in 1995.
Although Cinderella has reformed at times to tour the U.S., and were signed to Sony Records, fans have been left in the cold in terms of anything new studio wise from the band.
But while anything new emerging from Cinderella is unlikely, Keifer has always maintained that a solo album would emerge sometime in the future. But with ongoing throat issues and the odd tour from Cinderella, many were beginning to question whether Keifer would ever finish his long awaited debut effort.
But lo and behold, after a recording gestation of close to ten years, Keifer has finally delivered on his promise and offered fans his fist solo effort ‘The Way Life Goes’. And if the truth be told, it’s been well worth the wait.
Anyone who’s familiar with Cinderella’s output over their four studio album career will no doubt have some idea of what to expect from ‘The Way Life Goes’. And in short, it’s pretty much a mix of everything Keifer had delivered in the past – And that’s a touch of the blues, a bit of rock ‘n’ roll, a smattering of country and a whole lot of soul.
The opening track ‘Solid Ground’ is the perfect reintroduction of Keifer to the masses, with its blues/hard rock sound and gospel tinged anthem-like chorus bringing to mind Cinderella’s ‘Shelter Me’ classic. Keifer is in great form on the vocal front, and the closing lines of the song of ‘I need some shelter’ is an all-knowing salute from Keifer to fans who have stuck in there for the long run.
‘A Different Light’ is something a little different from Keifer with its pop rock sound, but no less worthy because of it. But what really stands out on this track is Keifer’s high falsetto on the chorus. Keifer has never dared to venture so far with his voice before, and only goes to prove that his voice is indeed better than ever (Which is a miracle given that he almost lost it forever some years ago).
‘It’s Not Enough’ is a gritty hard rocker with some gospel tinged backing vocals to add a bit of soul to proceedings, while the harmonica led blues based/Rolling Stones sounding grooved ‘Cold Day In Hell’ keep the album rocking hard.
Keifer has always produced fantastic ballads, and ‘Thick And Thin’ and the Aerosmith-like ‘You Showed Me’ are no exceptions. Once again, Keifer is found behind the piano on both tracks, and when it’s pitted alongside his trademark rasp, heartfelt lyrics and captivating melodies, you know Keifer has a genuine gift for song writing that’s full of sincerity. Although not really what you would call a ballad as such, the slow acoustic tune ‘Ask Me Yesterday’ is somewhat in a similar vein in that it’s up there with Keifer’s most heartfelt tunes. It’s a simple tune, but a definite favourite.
A touch of classic Led Zeppelin can be found in ‘Fools Paradise’ with the subtle organ work behind the extended guitar work, while Keifer channels a bit of old school Rod Stewart on the acoustic rocker ‘The Flower Song’ with great success.
But Keifer’s album isn’t without its all out rock numbers. ‘Mood Elevator’, which features a guest guitar performance from Cinderella’s Jeff LaBar, is a heavy number that brings to mind the band’s ‘Still Climbing’ era, while ‘Welcome To My Mind’ perfectly exudes a darker and menacing hard rock sound.
The Rolling Stones influences can once again be detected in the funky workout of ‘Ain’t That A Bitch’, while the title track ‘The Way Life Goes’ takes the funk elements one step further to include a touch of the blues, to eventually emerge with a sound reminiscent of Aerosmith at their prime during the mid ‘70’s.
Finishing up the album is ‘Babylon’, which is a great hard rocking tune with some great riffs, and a touch of saxophone to add some soul to proceedings and give the song a bit of a Cinderella sound.
After waiting a long ten years, I’d almost given up on ever seeing Keifer release his long awaited solo album. But now that the album is released, I can honestly say it’s been worth the wait.
‘The Way Life Goes’ is nothing short of great, and a long overdue release from one of the ‘80’s truly great singer/song writers.

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© Justin Donnelly


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