Tom Keifer

TOM KEIFER – The Way Life Goes

Tom Keifer - The Way Life GoesTo start this review off I reckon an introduction is in order, because I’m pretty sure that a lot of people don’t have a clue who this man is, even though everybody should. Tom Keifer is the song writer, lead guitarist and lead singer from American hard rock band Cinderella. Cinderella broke through big time back in 1986 with their debut album Night Songs that went double platinum in the States and together with Poison, they were the poster boys for what would later be called glam metal or hair metal, two stupid labels that holds no relevancy. First of all, even though Cinderella might have looked the bit back then, they were never a lame glam pop band like Poison, they had their roots in bands like Aerosmith and Deep Purple which would show off later in their career. The follow up, Long Cold Winter (1988) is seen as their magnum opus by many and it took one more step away from the colorful clothes and hard rock sound and by the time they released my favourite Cinderella album, Heartbreak Station in 1990 they had more in common with bands like Rolling Stones and they were showing off their rhythm & blues roots big time. That split the fans in two camps – the ones who loved it and the ones who preferred their more hard rock sound of their debut. By the time they released Still Climbing in 1994, grunge had taken over and even though that album was great, nobody cared anymore and the band split shortly after.

But the band refused to give it up all together. They reunited for some one-off shows /small tours and John Kalodner even signed them to Sony in 1999, but they were dropped before anything had been recorded. Still, Keifer had been fighting some serious problems with his vocal cords and in 2006 it has turned so bad that there was a huge risk that Keifer could never sing again, but due to some successful surgery and vocal coaching, he did learn to do it after he had to learn it all from scratch and in 2010 Cinderella started to tour again, but this time as a band and a real unit. Plus this time, the tours were taking them all over the world and not only in the US. So when we were expecting a brand new album from Cinderella, much to my surprise, we’re given a solo dito from Keifer instead. Apparently, this album has been a long time coming, in the making since 2004. Since Keifer has always stated that Heartbreak Station is his favourite Cinderella album, it wasn’t exactly hard to guess which path the music on his debut solo album would follow. And my guess was right. Keifer wears his influences on his sleeve here. Hard, energetic rock ‘n’ roll, very much in the Stones vein and there are lots of R&B influences baked in the songs.

Opener “Solid Ground” is a groovy rocker, very much like the sound Cinderella had on Heartbreak Station and sets the standard for this album, “A Different Light” is an acoustic based, very catchy, country smelling rock ballad, “It’s Not Enough” is a ballsy rocker, “Cold Day In Hell” is a brilliant 70’s Stones stomper and “Thick And Thin” is a marvellous blues based power ballad. Keifer takes us back to 1986, Night Songs and “Nobody’s Fool” with the fantastic “Ask Me Yesterday”, “Fools Paradise” is a catchy pop rocker, “The Flower Song” holds a close resemblance to Cinderella’s “Coming Home”, but with a touch of 60’s soul, “Mood Elevator” sounds like an old Cinderella hard rocker and “You Showed Me” is a ballad in the vein of 80’s Aerosmith, but without the cheese. As the album is getting close to the end, “Ain’t That A Bitch” takes us on a funky, 70’s hard rock groove journey and the title track turns out to be a raunchy rock groover with soul influences before “Babylon” closes the album with a bang and yours truly cannot do anything but surrender.

Tom Keifer has made one stunning come back (well, it actually is a solo debut more than a come back, but hey….) and if you’re a Cinderella fan, I guess this album is one you can easily buy unheard. However, if you hated Heartbreak Station you might wanna think twice about it, because the songs are even more rootsier here, showing off Keifer’s 60’s and 70’s influences to the max. The album has an edgy and raw production, but it’s still polished and balanced enough to not sound like a demo. Parts of me are wondering why Keifer didn’t make a Cinderella album out of this as he writes more or less all of Cinderella’s s songs, but on the other hand, there are too many songs here that might have sounded out-of-place on a Cinderella record. No matter under what name, this album is  real killer and I’m very happy it’s finally out. And my guess is that a new Cinderella album is not that far away. Until then, we have The Way Life Goes by Tom Keifer to keep us happy.

Jon Wilmenius (9/10)

Tracklist:
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
14. Babylon

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10 comments on “TOM KEIFER – The Way Life Goes

  1. Alright, decision made: I’m buying this. The lead single sounded so good, and I used to love Cinderella. Thanks for the review.

    I loved Heartbreak Station and I don’t at all mind hearing Tom go further down that road. Cool.

  2. Great review and prehistory on all things Kiefer!
    I’ve been on the fence about buying this but I will give it a buy now!
    Great site as well Jon!

  3. Yep u two fellas are bookmarked on my main screen on my ipad beside each other so I will be able to drop my cents worth at both sites!

  4. Dig the European vibe of this site as well but than again I used to buy all my mags on import ie..Kerrang,RAW,,Sounds,and I believe Metal Hammer from about 20 yrs ago,the only American one was RIP..now I just subscribe to Classic Rock that’s it .. And hey Between u and Mikes knowledge of reviews there’s no reason to look elsewhere !

  5. Wow, thanx. Huge compliment.
    I used to buy Metal Hammer as well, until the mid 90’s when uit began Grunge Hammer… Also Kerrang from time to time. I also subscribe to Classic Rock and Sweden’s own Sweden Rock Magazine. Too bad that one isn’t avaliable in English because I have a feeling you’s love that mag.

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