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HARDWARES

TOM KEIFER

The Way Life Goes

(Merovee Records)

Reviewed by : Mark Gromen
Rating : 7.5

He’s inherited more than just the lips and chicken strut stage antics from Mick Jagger, as single ‘Solid Ground’, the opening track from the CINDERELLA frontman/founder/guitarist’s initial (and long overdue) solo foray demonstrates. In fact, several tracks, with smatterings of acoustic/slide guitars, female backing vocals, harmonica, saxophone and piano owe a debt to ‘Brown Sugar’, ‘Wild Horses’ or ‘Some Girls’, as well as THE SMALL FACES. The 14 songs herein would not be considered “rock” by most Bravewords.com fans, yet theoretically one could hear the Cinder-fellas doing revved up versions of some (aforementioned single, short 3:03 ‘It’s Not Enough’ or ‘Cold Day In Hell’), although most range far afield of Keifer’s previous output. As it should be, this being a solo effort. Depending upon where one came aboard the CINDERELLA train will probably dictate the enjoyment level. Personally, as a fan of their club days, prior to being signed and the suits polishing things up for Night Songs (including turning ‘Nobody’s Fool’ into a full blown ballad, dropping the frenetic guitars that originally dominated after the first break, on the pre-release 45 vinyl), I can imagine the now middle aged 80s fans, circa Heartbreak Station, will find plenty of these singer-songwriter meets country sounds (Keifer has lived in Nashville for the last couple of decades)to their liking. Wonder if he realizes how (sub?) consciously he’s been indoctrinated by the 70s Philly radio stations of his (our) youth? With a pair of classic rock stations (before the format even existed) dominated by a restrictive few British acts (STONES, ZEPPELIN, FLYOD, GENESIS w/ Gabriel, etc.), at the expense of multi-platinum sellers of the day (read: KISS, ALICE COOPER, NUGENT), amazing the Galaxy and Empire scenes not only formed, but flourished. Those FM influences are strongly eveident throughout The Way Life Goes. The jangly guitar led ‘A Different Light’ and 'Fools Paradise' could be later day TOM PETTY (another Philly fave), especially the way the verses are delivered, in a nearly talked through fashion. Acoustic tinged, slide guitar and shuffle drumming, ‘The Flower Song’ revisits the STONES and (for later day music fans) BLACK CROWES. There’s even the LOU REED-ish begun title cut, while ‘Mood Elevator’ is the most aggressive number, with an unconvincing nod towards modern metal. The concluding ‘Babylon’ is really the only thing that could be considered a CINDERELLA outtake. Not an instant appeal, given the disjointed flow resulting from diverse styles, but with repeated listens and suspension of expectations, it becomes a relatively strong outing.



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