Tom Keifer – The Way Life Goes

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Review by Brian McGowan

Merovee Records

Ten years in the making, Tom Keifer’s solo album at last sees the light of day. His vocal problems have been well documented, and listening to this you have to conclude they’re well sorted now. It seems a lifetime since ‘Shake Me’ and ‘Nobody’s Fool’ (from 1986’s Night Songs) announced Keifer as an immense talent, and his band Cinderella as The Next Big Thing, a considerable cut above their hair metal contemporaries. Two albums later, the awesome Heartbreak Station was lauded by music critics but was the least successful, commercially, of the band’s first 3 album releases, and ultimately led to their demise. Ironically, it has served as the foundation for Keifer’s debut solo album, The Way Life Goes and it’s clear he’s been spinning songwriting gold during his enforced absence.

The album is just filled to the gunnels with Stonesy hard rock, Beatlish pop and the swampy, bluesy stuff that Aerosmith do. Yet, Keifer’s imprint is all over it like a tattoo, an indelible melodic signature that time could not erase. Lyrically, what might have been an elegiac, self-pitying tale of paradise lost turns out to be a philosophical shrug of the shoulders – the art of zen and getting your singing voice back (he never did lose his mojo). Keifer’s admitted present day muse – Mrs K – gets a few co-write credits, and that’s inevitably led to a softening of the music around the edges, not uniformly, but in all the right places. Love gets you through. A familiar sentiment.

Skilfully, impressively, the moods and images continually shift, from ill-fitting skin (’Solid Ground’, ‘Welcome To My Mind’), enlightenment (‘Ask Me Yesterday‘, ‘Different Light‘) to redemption and the love of a good, good woman (‘Flower Song‘, ’You Showed Me’). Elsewhere, ‘Thick and Thin’ will recall McCartney before he lost his edge, back when he was still writing from the heart. The chunky, bluesy, ‘Ain’t Life A Bitch’ exposes Keifer’s Aerosmith colourings and ’Mood Elevator’ has a slinky, old school, Faces’ rock feel.

But at its heart, it’s essentially Keifer. He still has the obsessive’s eye for finely filigreed detail and his lushly textured songs are richer than ever, but he’s never forgotten how to write a memorable melody and a winning hook. And these are here in abundance. It’s an album that should be announced with a trumpet fanfare, but will have to do with the loud acclaim of the discerning few.

Tom Keifer - The Way Life Goes9 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. Solid Ground
  2. A Different Light
  3. It’s Not Enough
  4. Cold Day In Hell
  5. Thick And Thin
  6. Ask Me Yesterday
  7. Fool’s Paradise
  8. The Flower Song
  9. Mood Elevator
  10. Welcome To My Mind
  11. You Showed Me
  12. Aint That A Bitch
  13. The Way Life Goes
  14. Babylon