THE WAY LIFE GOES
Released on April 30, 2013 (Merovee Records)
01. Solid Ground
02. A Different Light
03. It’s Not Enough
04. Cold Day In Hell
05. Thick And Thin
06. Ask Me Yesterday
07. Fools Paradise
08. The Flower Song
09. Mood Elevator
10. Welcome To My Mind
11. You Showed Me
12. Ain’t That A Bitch
13. The Way Life Goes
Tom Keifer – vocals, guitar and keyboards
Michael Rhodes – bass
Greg Morrow – drums and percussion
Tony Harrell – piano, B3, Wurlitzer and clavinet
Jeff LaBar – guitar (9)
Pat Buchanan – guitar and harmonica (4,6,8,11,13)
Gary Burnette – guitar (11)
Ron Wallace – acoustic guitar (6)
Etta Britt – background vocals (1,4,6,8,13)
Crystal Taliaferro – background vocals (1,4)
Savannah Keifer – background vocals (2,3,6,9,10)
Vicky Carraco – background vocals (4,6,8,13)
Chuck Turner – background vocals (9)
Jim Horne – saxophone (4)
Produced by Tom Keifer, Savannah Keifer and Chuck Turner.
Cinderella fans have been waiting, and waiting, and waiting for close to a decade since rumors of a Tom Keifer solo album first began to circulate. I’ll admit I was beginning to wonder if The Way Life Goes was ever going to see the light of day or if it would languish in Keifer‘s closet forever. To the delight of music lovers the world over, the Cinderella frontman has finally offered up what has become one of the most anticipated rock releases in recent memory — and in all honesty, has delivered the type of eclectic collection that I envisioned.
Despite constant battles with his vocal chords over the years, Keifer sounds pretty damn good as he shuffles between rockers, ballads and bluesy-driven numbers. Album opener “Solid Ground” reminds me of a more accessible version of “Shelter Me”, and I can’t help but wonder how much more successful Heartbreak Station would have been with “Solid Ground” as the debut single. After experimenting for a couple numbers a harmonica kicks off the moody “Cold Day In Hell”, a song that almost becomes a duet during the chorus with the addition of female backing vocals — something that surfaces throughout The Way Life Goes. “Thick And Thin” slows things down and finds Keifer‘s voice shining against some heartfelt lyrics and then comes “Ask Me Yesterday”, the album’s first full-fledged ballad.
The second half of The Way Life Goes starts off incredibly strong with first single “The Flower Song”, a song that has a similar feel to Rod Stewart‘s “Maggie May”. Even better yet is “Mood Elevator” — with a guest appearance from Cinderella bandmate Jeff LaBar, “Mood Elevator” is arguably the album’s heaviest track and harkens back to the Still Climbing days. From there on the album starts to take several chances, some of which work and some that don’t, but the ballad “You Showed Me” has a cool Aerosmith vibe to it and the closing “Babylon” ends the festivities on another rocking high note.
Tom Keifer has thrown a little bit of everything into The Way Life Goes, pushing his own boundaries at times while offering his hardcore fan base exactly want they want and expect. And as good as Keifer sounds after all these years it is his guitar playing that almost takes center stage, offering a wide array of memorable riffs as he tackles the electric, acoustic and slide guitar. The female backing vocals also play a prominent role on this album, although that didn’t exactly catch me by surprise as Cinderella often used similar tactics.
The Way Life Goes is a great album, but it could have been even better by chopping it down to about ten tracks. I think it would have been more consistent if it was shorter in length as there are a few times Keifer takes the experimentation a little too far (especially towards the album’s waning moments). However, after waiting this long for a solo album I suppose fans wanted their money’s worth, and in that respect Keifer has undeniably delivered — and if you enjoyed Cinderella‘s last two studio albums I have no doubts that you will appreciate this very personal offering from one hard rock’s true musical talents.
Reviewed by Skid for Sleaze Roxx, May 2013