I don’t think I could have put into words the excitement I felt as knowing Canadian legend Rik Emmett was set to deliver a new “rock’ album after several years of more laid back, blues/acoustic styled releases.
His solo debut Absolutely remains one of my favourite melodic rock albums of all time and Triumph is one of the greatest ever Canadian rock bands, and there’s plenty to choose from.
Anyway, Rik’s voice is effortless to listen to and his guitar work quite marvellous.
Then the guests were announced – James LaBrie, Alex Liefson and even a track with the Triumph guys!
Expectations were set to overload, which is why I’ve come down to earth with such a thud.
Opening with the rocker Stand Still, it sounded like everything I wanted was about to be delivered. The shimmering bluesy rocker has the feel of Absolutely and then the glorious melodic rock of Human Race (feat. Alex Lifeson) was hugely satisfying.
Making it three from three is the big ballad I Sing (feat. James LaBrie), again touching on Rik’s old sound.
But it is here that the album unravelled for me.
First, following the ballad just gone was two more ballads – but both slow bluesy number that I’ve simply heard enough of from Rik.
Then a third laid back track (making 4 in a row) is a Santana styled bluesy guitar opus only to be followed by another slow acoustic blues number that frankly has zero interest to me.
So that’s half the album all bundled together that I have no interest in and isn’t anything like the rock album that was promoted.
Heads Up gathers a little pace finally and can be called a rock track. It’s ok, nothing like the opening two gems.
Rest of My Life continues the laid back theme, as does End of the Line (feat. Alex Lifeson & James LaBrie). At least this track has guitars turned up. It’s more a bluesy rock jam, with no emphasis on hook or chorus.
And then comes the biggest disappointment of all. The Triumph reunion on Grand Parade. It is a slow, acoustic driven blues ballad that just doesn’t go anywhere. I can’t believe it. The guys are just wasted.
Sorry Rik, as much as there is some fine musicianship on this (to be expected), the songwriting remains placid and ultimately unsatisfying. It’s way too laid back and should not be promoted as a rock record, aside from 3, maybe 4 of the tracks.
The guitar work is amazing, but the bluesy direction and the lack of energy makes this one of 2016’s biggest disappointments.