It's not all that often that an album lands on the Photogroupie desk that not only sucks you in at the start but also grips you until the end. Canadian guitarist, vocalist and composer Rik Emmett has found himself guilty as charged by putting his name to just such an album. Recorded with his touring bandmates (Dave Dunlop, Paul Delong and Steve Skingley) have put together a diverse selection of songs ranging from the anthemic to the introspective for their outstanding new record.
Emmett is known for his versatility as a musician, playing everything from jazz to blues which helps the album from becoming tedious and stale in the middle. In fact, Emmett has said that the album represents the journey of his life, which is another reason why the album has such a roller-coaster feel of dips, twists, highs and lows – just like real life.
Stand Still is a blues loaded powder keg of explosive classic rock that shakes your bones and rattles your brain with the sheer power of the album opener. Delong's drumming is extraordinary taking on a Keith Moon frenzy of double and triple beats which help spice up the album from start to finish. The uplifting Tom Petty inspired sound of Human Race is enhanced by Rush's Alex Lifeson's 12 string guitar. Lifeson is not the only guest performer on the album Dream Theater's Alex Labrie gives an astonishing vocal performance on I Sing and joins Lifeson on End Of The Line, while Emmett's former Triumph band mates Gil Moore and Mike Levine lend their talents to the bonus track, Grand Parade.
The album is expertly mixed allowing all the musicians the right amount of space to be heard. So much music today is produced as if it were a battle royale for the soundscape, so it's a thrill to hear all the band members on an equal channel. The material is hugely melodic and memorable and lyrically clever from the inspiring “every lesson I have learned, every scar that I have earned taught me how to raise a joyful noise' in the ecclesiastic I Sing, to the carefully disguised venereal cravings of Sweet Tooth. There are also wailing and heartfelt guitar solos, jazzy licks with a Steely Dan flavour and some very tasty David Gilmore style runs too; Emmett has covered all bases with his vast knowledge of a fretboard.
There may be nothing groundbreaking here, but the band, thankfully, aren't content to rehash the same old generic elements and fall short of cliched riffs due to the sheer standard of their musicianship. A terrific album, and not a duff track on it.
Groupie Rating 5/5: