I was introduced to Soul Risin’ in 2009 by my friend Greg who noted that Jon Fishman himself called himself a fan of the group. When Phish played the War Memorial in the fall of 2009, an indoor lot scene was created with vendors of food, beer and clothing, as well as a few bands, most notably, Soul Risin’. Their first two albums were in regular rotation on road trips and the third album will find a home in the mix very shortly.
The album kicks off with “Don Negativo (Fool Like You)”, a country/rock foot-tapper, including a Blues Traveler vibe in the vocals that push right to the edge of each peak, building up again to the refrain. Title track “Rise & Fall” has a “You Can Call Me Al” rhythm, very calypso in composition with evenly balanced horns in the back. This is a definite crowd pleaser of a tune. “Heavens Done” has funk and blaring horns from the start, scat style singing and large builds with the horns, giving the band it’s first rock anthem of the album. “Tidal Waves” has a rockabilly, hip shaker beat to it while “Leaving Train” is the first softer track on the album, growing to nearly a full band ballad.
The next few tracks (“Worcester”->”Baby”) carry the theme of the passing of lead singer Bryan Weinsztok’s father last year through the birth of his child this spring.
The island jamming music of “Worcester” is a little Strangefolk-sounding mixed into the progressive jams and guitar work. This track opens up nicely with keywork from Mike D’Ambrosio before returning to the composition and Weinsztok’s impassioned lyrics. “The Door” gets started on a slow and steady path, but halfway through diverges and gets abruptly louder, with notable accents from Adam Fisher’s bass. Another album highlight, “Part Two/Open the Door” showcases John Capozzolo’s drum work and Jim Dunham’s Percussion, providing the framework for the band to create a song with even greater depth; one cannot help but recall Dave Matthews efforts from a decade ago when hearing “Open the Door”, a compliment to this grand track.
“The Greatest Advice” moves by at a breakneck pace but the lyrics chillingly stick out, notably the repeated “Love means more than madness, when we’re tossed off to life’s great abyss. Ours is the flame that burns in this insane world over.” A lullaby sung from father to child, “Baby” is the softest moment on the album. “Punk” takes the album out on a high note, with Weinsztok’s guitar tearing through the song.
Key Tracks – Rise and Fall, Worcester, Part Two/Open the Door, The Greatest Advice
Soul Risin’ plays Saturday at The Westcott Theater for the official album release party. You can win tickets via UpstateLIVE at the bottom of this page.