Who’s back to deliver uncompromising classic rock? That’s right – it’s Rockford Road, and they’re keeping the spirit of rock and roll alive with their brand-new, full-length album, Epilogue. Running the gamut from blues-based classic rock to deeply rooted americana, Epilogue is another solid collection that relies on the stony heart of rock and the expressive scope of vast, unclimbable canyons. Is Epilogue truly something special? Follow me for the highlights, and if you dig the comparisons, you’re going to want to listen for yourself.
Wait. Who does what?
Based in Richmond, VA, Rockford Road was originally formed by drummer Jim Davidson and lead singer/multi-instrumentalist Bob Mahan, later joined by bassist/vocalist Tom Wisneski. And when you hear that beautiful female voice? That’s Victoria Cottrell lending an assist on vocals. What about that strong, peppering sax? That’s courtesy of Casey Cranford.
So, about the music…
After listening to the first 15-seconds of “Place to Hide,” I have to, immediately, make a comparison to Jim Morrison – the lead vocal from Bob Mahan has that particularly deep and bellowing voice, with a commanding sing-speak, self-assuredness, and an occasional gravelly dip that reminds one of a looser version of Jim (and the accompanying organ and punchy beat help drive The Doors comparison home).
“Fresh Harvest” comes off as more relaxed; a little more tender. The song is cleanly strummed, perhaps a little playful, and plainly describes the idiosyncrasies of simple love and appreciated longing.
“I’m Doing Fine” sounds more modern, at least from the start – it’s an opening reminiscent of alt-art-rock à la The Smashing Pumpkins. But then it hits a steady chord progression, and Victoria Cottrell’s strong voice takes the reins. It’s a little Jefferson Airplane or Fairport Convention, but with a dip in modern rock’s glancing, idolized inner darkness.
“Shades of Blue” reminds me, strongly, of the opening to Heart’s “Crazy on You.” In fact, it was so reminiscent, I was waiting for that cutting, renowned guitar riff to sledgehammer the peaceful acoustic opening and announce its diabolical arrival. But, “Shades of Blue” then presents its own identity. There’s a darkness here, too, but a little more subdued, and less a dramatic entrance than a slowly seeping awareness. With deep sax notes growling underneath, “Shades of Blue” conveys its angst alongside Cottrell’s higher, more desperate delivery. And yes, the longer description means it’s a personal favorite.
“State of the Union” is a slow creeper; it’s mid-tempo and delivered in measured beats; plenty of time for our Morrison acolyte to deliver affecting lyrics and paint his discontent in moody, incensed singing.
“Who Do We Think We Are” is a testament to how we get along….or, how we don’t. With a steady beat, lyrical truths, a note-painting sax, and gurgling organ, “Who Do We Think We Are” makes a plea, steps up to the plate, and knows it can work, but only if we work at it – which, honestly, we may not care to.
But is it good?
Tell me – do you like The Doors? How about classic rock with raw instruments not overproduced to the point of killing their natural howl? How about strong vocalists with character, merit, and when necessary, the talent to soar? When music was more feeling than product – more expression than formula – this is what it sounded like. Recommended, and I IMPLORE you to listen for yourself.
BELOW: Listen to Rockford Road and check them out on various social media platforms. Please support Rockford Road by visiting them online, and playing, downloading, and/or purchasing their music. And, as always, thank you for supporting real music.