The coolest thing about singer / songwriter and multi instrumentalist, Tom Keifer, is that he’s never caved creatively. As one of the driving forces behind the ’80s arena rock scene, his sound always has remained distinctive and authentic. While his chart-busting group, Cinderella, may have been packaged as a hair band, his now iconic songs were more reflective of a soulful, bluesy Stones-inspired, Aerosmith-style influence rather than the popular cookie cutter cock rock of the era. As a result of Keifer’s acknowledged artistic integrity, when his acclaimed debut solo record, The Way Life Goes, dropped back in 2013, it pointed to the future as opposed to resting in the past. And there was an enormous audience waiting to embrace it. After six years of relentless touring and brand rebuilding, Tom Keifer returns in 2019 with his just-released sophomore set, Rise.
Produced by Keifer, his bandmate wife Savannah and Kyle O’Connor, Rise kicks off strong with “Touching the Divine.” Driven by Keifer’s signature-style, rock-ribbed rasp and scuffed perfectly by his dirty, blues-based slide guitar work, this one feels familiar, while spewing just enough streetwise freshness to pack maximum punch.
Of the record’s lead-off video single, Keifer has stated, “We created ‘The Death of Me’ to inspire people not to give in to or be defeated by the seemingly insurmountable lows that we all sometimes face, but rather to ‘rise’ and overcome them.” Simply put, the track is a powerful standout.
“There’s an off-the-rails, real live feel to Rise,” says Keifer. “We tried not to polish too much,” he adds. And of the record’s many high-octane highlights, “All Amped Up” hits like “fire and ice,” while “Breaking Down” drips with “Love is Strong” allure.
Despite possessing a distinguished reputation for producing heart-stopping hard rock anthems, it can be argued that Tom Keifer is at his artistic apex when he “strips down” and reveals his true soul. In that regard, the Sticky Fingers-flavored “Waiting on the Demons,” along with the soaring title track and the delicate record closer, “You Believe in Me” are beautiful aural gemstones.
In sum, with Rise, Tom Keifer succeeds in proving (once again) to be an artist who knows no creative boundaries and remains in a league of his own.