I’ve been a huge fan of Rik Emmett since the moment that I heard TRIUMPH’S Allied Forces way back in 1981, and I’ve enjoyed every single album that he’s put out since he split with the band in 1988. His first three solo albums, Absolutely, Ipso Facto, and The Spiral Notebook are classics to me and always in regular rotation, and I’ve really appreciated the diversity of the musical styles throughout his entire catalog, whether hard rock, blues, jazz, or classical. It’s been a few years since Rik had a new album, but he’s back with Res 9, from RIK EMMETT & RESolution9 (out now via Mascot Label Group), and it’s amazing.
For fans hoping for an album that hearkens back to classic TRIUMPH, this isn’t it. The overall sound, to me, definitely reflects the writing that Rik did in the early 1990s as he was launching his solo career, and is a solid hard rock and blues rock affair. Rik’s voice is still amazing, but you aren’t going to hear any screams – his singing is the smooth and emotive style that he’s perfected over the last 25 years, and it remains beautiful and compelling. Of course, Rik nails it on guitar, whether providing some very solid riffs and solos on the more upbeat songs or delivering emotional blues lines. He’s joined by his touring band on the album with Dave Dunlop (guitars), Steve Skingley (bass and keyboards), and Paul DeLong (drums), and they’re as tight as they have been when I’ve seen them playing live. Dave and Steve co-produced this album along with Rik, and their production is excellent – it might be one of the best sounding records I’ve heard this year, with amazing clarity and mastering.
There’s something here for any fan of Rik’s career – rockers like “Stand Still”, “Human Race”, “End Of The Line”, and “Heads Up” mesh perfectly with the slower paced “I Sing” and “Rest Of My Life”. The middle of the album (“”My Cathedral”, “The Ghost of Shadow Town”, “When You Were My Baby”, and “Sweet Tooth”) slow things down and take the album into blues and jazz direction, and it’s some of the best writing that Rik’s done in those genres. As an added bonus to an already great album, James LaBrie (DREAM THEATER) contributes guest vocals on “I Sing” and “End of the Line”, with Alex Lifeson (RUSH) providing some beautiful guitar on “End of the Line” and “Human Race”.
The final track on the disc is the first song featuring all three members of TRIUMPH in almost 30 years, and while “Grand Parade” is a great bonus, it’s a very slow and sedate song, not the intense rocker that fans of the band might have envisioned when it was announced. It’s really a beautiful track – listening to the lyrics makes me think that they might have been recounting a reunion and reconciling over the breakup of the band so many years ago. If they never get back together to record again, Rik, Gil Moore, and Mike Levine have wrapped up their legacy in a fitting way with an amazing song.
Do you need this? Yes, without question – and why are you still reading this review instead of picking up Res 9?!?
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM