Tom Keifer: ‘Rise’

Released on September 13, 2019 (Cleopatra Records)

When I first heard Tom Keifer was going to do a new album, I was excited but curious. I say that because The Way Life Goes was a good album and had at least four songs I really think are worthy of being included on a Tom Keifer body of work “Best Of” set should one be put together like ones for Steve Perry of Journey fame (and beyond) and Don Henley of The Eagles fame (and beyond) have been done over the years. Those songs, by the way, are “Solid Ground,” “It’s Not Enough,” “Cold Day In Hell” and “Ask Me Yesterday.” But, the overall tone of The Way life Goes had a little more… I don’t know, maybe a touch of country influence in it more so than what we have heard from Tom Keifer in his Cinderella offerings. I’ve been shot down when I suggest that before but the last song of the four I really liked, “Ask Me Yesterday” has a clear influence. So, after five or six more years in Nashville, I feared a new Tom Keifer album could delve further into the country column… And, that is a fear. Much like Don Henley‘s forgettable country record and the myriad of “please like me” songs Bret Michaels has put out in recent years suckling at the teet of the overly popular country music genre presently, most of the rockers gone country stuff is hot garbage. I don’t care for country anyway — I don’t hate it. It just doesn’t do it for me… Who knew I couldn’t relate to songs that either sound like jeans commercials or that if you played backwards, you’d get your job back, wife back, dog back, and truck back? Anyway, I’m way off on a rant here. Back on point…

When I saw #Keiferband, which appears on the album art more so than the words “Tom Keifer” (which makes you wonder if the band name is in fact Keiferband), I was surprised at how much harder edged the songs were than I expected. I remarked that with a band this loud, Tom does not need the rest of Cinderella. After a few spins through the new album titled Rise, I say again, he doesn’t need Cinderella. It is odd that the album is called Rise because the songs, some anyway, could have fit on Cinderella‘s Still Climbing album. I guess “Still Still Climbing” or “Climbing Still” might have been a touch too on the nose?

The first song on the album is “Touching The Divine.” Now, when I first heard this track, I worried about Tom‘s vocals as they hit you without much subtlty. He’s pushing his chords hard on this one and for those who want to think the worst, they might have said “he can’t do it like he used to.” I challenge those folks to blast that through a good set of speakers and say this song isn’t a bad ass opener. Haunting guitar hooks and just ripping vocals mixed with an added female backing presence… I really like this opening cut. “The Death of Me” is the second track. I used this video clip on my recent interviews with wrestlers like Rob Van Dam, Tony Schiavone and Kiera Hogan. I did so without prompting or pay because I dig the song. If you listen to the lyrics, it is about not taking bullshit from anyone especially those who think they’ve got one up on you. Little old me, a legally blind guy from Arizona that grew up in New Jersey with assholes who all had their thumbs down on me trying to define who I was or could be… Damn, I love this track! Superb! I mean, I must have played it 100 times before listening to the rest of the record. And, you can tell Tom was feeling it with an extra “yeah” in the latter stages of the chorus. They hit the mark here.

“Waiting On The Demons” is a catchy song in line with The Way Life Goes a bit with, still, a more Cinderella feel… It is a tad repetitive and a little less catchy than some of the classic ballads. But, it has a good groove and his inclusion of Savannah Keifer‘s vocals really helps. “Hype” is the song that made me stop and say, “Ok, this is better than The Way Life Goes already.” I say that having bought The Way Life Goes twice, the original release and the extended edition with the bonus DVD and no, it wasn’t to see Lzzy Hale in sweatpants and no make-up. That actually did nothing for me. I will admit that some of the backing effects on “Hype” detract from the song, like a ’90s modem or fax machine noise. It clearly has to do with the way the world is now with social media. But, the vocals are strong! I mean, Tom just is going for it. And, for a fan who wanted more Cinderella and for whatever reason never got it, that is what we’ve wanted for years!

“United” is a track that has a very bluesy feel with a “Night Songs” twang to the guitar. Being honest, I picture the Bumblefuck, Texas area like you see in the shots of the movie the Longest Yard when I hear the riff. Very grooving, bluesy, and the vocals are incredible. Tom has some of his “normal” voice, non screaming, carrying the majority of the song. But, has some bad ass screaming that is amazing as the song progresses. I almost think this should have been one of the teaser songs for the album. “Rise”, the title track, is up next. It features a more melodic feel. If you dug the “A Little Help From My Friends” cover on The Way Life Goes Deluxe Edition, the Joe Cocker cover, you’ll dig this original track. Savannah really offers a lot of great backing vocals on top of Tom‘s vocals. Powerful lyrics. I like it but it has a very ’70s feel to it for me. Not a thing wrong with that.

“All Amped Up”! Holy shit balls! This should have been a teaser. All the power of “The More Things Change” with screaming vocals that blow my mind. Cinderella faithful ought to dig this big time. “Breaking Down” is a little like “United” with the bluesy, slower hard rock groove. Very catchy. “Taste For The Pain” is another ballad. This one features an almost military drum back beat to it. Nice song. Explores the songwriter side of Tom. “Life Was Here” is another fast tempo rocker. I really like it. I can picture this being used in a movie, being honest. Very catchy chorus. Love the guitar hooks. Great vocals. “You Believe In Me” is the finish of the song. It pretty much is just Tom‘s voice and an an accoustic guitar. Nice, catchy song. Great way to end the album. Almost has a Bruce Springsteen feel to it in the songwriting style.

So, this album hits on a lot of levels. For one, it is Tom sounding like Cinderella with hard, sometimes even heavy metal sounding songs. It does have its fair share of ballads and, for me, they’re hit and miss. But, if you are buying it for the rocking tracks, there is a lot to pick from here. If you’re buying for the softer, songwriter style songs that have always appeared in Cinderella and Tom Keifer releases, that is here too. For me, I’m more for the former. I wanted to hear if he could still write an ass kicking song and if the band of Nashville musicians can deliver a heavy rock record, heavier than The Way Life Goes. They have. It is such an incredible release. It almost makes me sad, in a way, that we were cut so short on Cinderella albums and that it took so long to get Tom Keifer out and doing new music again. The Way Life Goes was a great album that had occasional flashes of excellence and occasional reminders of Cinderella. This album, Rise, is much closer, I would say, to a Cinderella album that would fit best right after Still Climbing. It isn’t Cinderella. It has Tom‘s solo fingerprints all over it. But, if you have wanted to hear more stuff that sounds like Cinderella, this is about as close as you’re going to get. You know, if Naked Beggars didn’t do it for you… And, who did it do it for?

My only gripe is I want a t-shirt for Rise or the 2019 tour. I am almost certain there was merch at the show I went to but I went solo. I couldn’t give up my near front spot! So, if anyone knows where I can grab a t-shirt as they are elusive online, help a brother out! I got three albums on Friday, the 13th of September — this one, the new Crashdïet, and the new The Defiants. So far, I haven’t done the other two the justice they probably deserve as this one has been in far more.

Track List:
01. Touching The Divine
02. The Death of Me
03. Waiting On The Demons
04. Hype
05. Untitled
06. Rise
07. All Amped Up
08. Breaking Down
09. Taste For The Pain
10. Life Was Here
11. You Believe In Me

Band Members:
Tom Keifer – lead vocals, guitar, piano
Savannah Keifer – percussion, piano, vocals
Tony Higbee – lead and rhythm guitar
Billy Mercer – bass
Kendra Chantelle – percussion, background vocals
Jarred Pope – drums
Kory Myers – keyboards

Band Websites:
Official Website

Reviewed by for Sleaze Roxx, September 2019

Tom Keifer‘s “The Death of Me” video:

Tom Keifer #keiferband “The Death of Me” (Official Music Video)

Tom Keifer “The Death of Me””The Death of Me” from the brand new Tom Keifer #keiferband relea…

Tom Keifer‘s “Rise” video:

Tom Keifer #keiferband “Rise” (Official Music Video)

“Rise” the title track from the brand new Tom Keifer #keiferband release “Rise” collection…

Tom Keifer‘s “Touching The Divine” lyric video:

Tom Keifer #keiferband “Touching The Divine” Official Lyric Video

Tom Keifer #keiferband”Touching The Divine” Official Lyric Video”Touching The Divine” from the brand new Tom Keifer #keiferband album “RISE””Touching The Div…