Music review: Tom Keifer – ‘Rise’

I’ve been a fan of Tom Keifer since the early days of Cinderella. No, not the Disney character, but the Philadelphia-based band that burst on the music scene in the mid-1980s with gutsy hard rock tunes like “Gypsy Road,” “Shake Me,” “Nobody’s Fool,” “Somebody Save Me” and “Don’t Know What You’ve Got (Till It’s Gone).”

Although Cinderella’s fame seemed to fizzle out by 1995, Keifer kept the faith on his own and eventually delivered his first solo album in 2013. “The Way Life Goes” featured the raspy-voiced frontman continuing Cinderella’s formula for belting out gritty rock ’n’ roll numbers with a bluesy punch added for good measure.

Six years later, Keifer resurfaces with his second solo release that proves it was well worth the wait. “Rise” was made loud to be played loud.

The 58-year-old singer can still deliver the goods with a commanding voice that provides plenty of muscle to the potent musical assault provided by guitarist Tony Higbee, bassist Billy Mercer, keyboardist Kory Myers and drummer Jarred Pope.

“Rise” serves as a triumphant call to stand up to the forces that try to drag you down and prevent you from reaching the heights that allow you to shine and prosper.

“Touching the Divine” is the rousing album opener that offers an inspiring message to erase the dark days blanketing the soul through mercy, grace and faith in order to be able to stand firmly in a higher place of deliverance.

“The Death of Me” speaks to resisting personal demons and the sinful temptations they offer with Keifer growling, “Try to break me, bleed me, shoot me with disease/You ain't gonna be the death of me.”

While tracks like “Life Was Here,” “All Amped Up” and “Hype” assertively fuel Keifer’s simmering lyrics, some softer tracks add an aspect of vulnerability to the album’s overall tone.

The piano ballad “Taste for the Pain” is an engaging exercise in resiliency and determination. Keifer seems to bare his soul as he declares, “I've been shattered by crueler than you.”

The album comes full circle from the scorching opener to the gentle closer. “You Believe in Me” is a soft acoustic track that passionately proclaims the glorious feeling of having someone truly believe in you and what you can do.

Having seen Keifer perform two years ago, I highly recommend catching the Pennsylvania native when he makes an area appearance for a show on October 17 at Jergel’s Rhythm Grille in Warrendale.

Clint Rhodes is the Herald-Standard music reviewer. He can be reached at clinton43@me.com.

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