CD Review – Tom Keifer / The Way Life Goes
Wow, can you imagine that 1994 was the last time we heard any new original material from Cinderella with Still Climbing? Well Mr. Keifer, the 19 year break was well worth the wait with The Way Life Goes. On his new solo release, Tom takes the listener on a journey through all of what made Cinderella great – whisky soaked vocals, crunching guitars, bluesy hard rock, and kick-ass menacing anthems aimed to please. Tom took his best shot and hit the target with a resounding BULLYSEYE. The songs are so strong it truly rivals anything on Night Songs or Long Cold Winter – two classics in my collection. Keifer has come up with some his most memorable lyrics, really painting a picture with each track while keeping me tapping my best air drums at the same time with a solid backing band.
“Solid Ground” is that perfect opening track. Big hooks that Keifer howls and plenty of those harmonies and slide guitar via “ShelterMe” 1990. It really grabbed me by the face and rocked me to the bone. I really enjoy the female harmonies on the chorus – a Keifer staple.
“A Different Light” is that mid-tempo feel good track. Keifer is really feeling good about life on this one, you can sense it throughout the track. It’s very catchy with a nice hook in the chorus. Can’t help but think that this song would work well unplugged.
“It’s Not Enough” pushes hard but not quite hard enough. I wanted a little more meat on this bone. We get the “shot of gasoline” line again from “Night Songs”..a nice nod to the past but I wanted this one to rock a little harder. Overall, still a cool tune.
“Cold Day in Hell” shines like a penny in a little kid’s hand. Works all the way around – awesome hook, catchy harmonies and some slick harmonica! This may be my favorite song on the record. I keep tracking back to this one in the car..great driving tune with the windows down!
“Thick and Thin” shows us the sensitive Tom without coming across too sappy, nice piano via “Don’t Know What You Got”. This song may showcase the highest range Keifer can get on the chorus – strong songs keep this album rolling right along.
“Ask Me Yesterday” again shows Keifer in another slow setting..but now we have acoustic guitar and no piano. Totally different from the previous track and even more haunting lyrically. Some pain here, perhaps? Second thoughts about a decision? Whatever the intent, this gets a crowd with their hands raised swaying back and forth because the song flows so well.
“Fools Paradise” is a bit difficult to decipher. It’s mid-tempo with some punchy blues riffs to boot. Catchy chorus but the song is a bit stagnant; not my favorite but if you like good solid blues guitar you will love it.
“The Flower Song” has some really summertime ‘let’s have some beers and stare as chicks run on the beach’ love to it! Did I say that? Actually it’s a love song but I picture Keifer on the beach with me with that beer so tough! Great song with even more cool blues riffs.
“Mood Elevator” really, really rocks! Someone pumped Tom up with a “Shot of Gasoline” with this one. The song moves and grooves with some serious flair! Some of the hardest drumming on the whole record can be found here. Tom sounds very determined to hit that elevator button to the very top floor and I think he got there.
“Welcome To My Mind” is the trippy side of Tom. Not quite Alice Cooperish..but close. I’m not a fan of that type of sound – overdubbing the vocal so it sounds like a police air horn thing. Some cool guitar on the bridge..quite heavy actually.
“You Showed Me” is the track your girlfriend or wife will love. Some massive appeal with Tom clearly singing to his wife on this one, a real couple tune. Folks will play this at their wedding – I would. It would be amazing unplugged and slower.
“Ain’t That A Bitch” is angry Tom. Very 70’s sounding with Jon Lord type organ pieces. This song sounds like an Aerosmith leftover from 1977! Where is my CB good buddy? Kick ass lead on this one.
“The Way Life Goes” has some more killer harmonica and groove to it. This is Tom laid back, just chillin. Whatever happens..happens man! Sort of a life lesson to just enjoy and take each day for what it is..a gift!
Tom really worked hard on The Way Life Goes and that shines through from start to finish – no glam and all bam! The album delivers on many levels with some of the best arrangements a good producer like Tom Keifer himself can buy! Tom knows Tom best I guess. Tom also knows that after 19 years of no new original material this better be worth it. It is. As far as I’m concerned, Cinderella can stay inactive as long as Keifer keeps the train moving out of the “Heartbreak Station” on his own.
The Way Life Goes Track Listing: