TOM KEIFER: THE WAY LIFE GOES
There’s not many bands I miss being around from the days of my mis-spent youth but I’ll make an exception for Cinderella. Somewhere along the road, they found themselves lazily thrown in with other bands who still had their hair - as though having hair was a real life musical movement - and subsequently swept under The Carpet Of Rock.
The past can be a cruel mistress sometimes.
Fortunately, for those of us who still have the use of our own senses, a couple of years back, Tom Keifer released a solo album, The Way Life Goes, which is about as close to being a Cinderella album as you’re likely to get. It's also as close as you're ever likely to get to a perfect rock album. There are a few subtle changes to the sound that will alert the erstwhile fan to the absence of the original members of the band but make no mistake - this is no desperate spin-off. This is the real deal and all of its strength lies in Keifer’s songwriting and vocal performance.
This is no knee-jerk 'magazine deadline' review of the album either. I’ve lived with it since it was released (April 2013 - I have since looked) and every time I spin it, it’s as fresh as the first time. Would I go so far as to say The Way Life Goes is one of the only albums you’d ever need to stop to pick up when faced with a house fire? I would - but it’s only a turn of phrase. Get the hell out of the house and buy another copy later. Life is all about priorities if you hadn’t noticed.
What pulses to make The Way Life Goes stand out from the crowd is that it's been written and built from the ground up with nothing but fistfuls of love. Nobody was waiting for it, there was no expectation of it when it arrived and so far as I can see, the whole ‘project’ exists solely because it was inside and had to come out sometime. That is to say, it's great rock for its own sake and not as a commercial venture to put food on the table - although I guess that may be a second priority now, so if you’re thinking about buying it, head over to Tom’s site and grab it from where he says to - maybe if we keep him fed and watered, one day soon, he'll make another.
The relationship I’ve got going with this album is something I haven’t felt for a while. It’s not even something related to nostalgia. If I wanted that, I’d drop a Cinderella album on. No, what we have here is a collection of songs that are relevant now - so much so, I could be pushed into stating it was timeless. It’s stamped with all the hallmarks of roots that stretch back fifty years if you care to look, but I guarantee it will still sound great ten or twenty years in the future. Rather like the classic albums from Aerosmith (Night In The Ruts, Toys In The Attic) which are albums in which nothing else happens aside from magic being caught on tape, The Way Life Goes operates in the same manner.
It’s been a fair while since I raised up the inclination to write an album review and I kinda like that it was this that made me want to do it again. If you haven’t put your money where your ears are recently, open up the piggy with a hammer and get it on.
For the record and for those interested, Cinderella were more derailed by Tom’s voice than by the arrival of the Cobain Train. His vocal problems are no secret, they’re well documented if you choose to look, but the enforced grounding (frustrating though it may have been) has proved invaluable. With an incredibly strong, tight band and what looks like a pretty successful tour of his own, I can hardly wait to see what comes next.
The Way Life Goes is gonna run and run around here.
It’s more than good to have you back Mr K.