When Rivers Meet / Debut album brings a whiskey seam of hope
29 October 2020
When Rivers Meet are husband and wife, Aaron and Grace Bond and ‘We Fly Free’ is their debut album, following the release of two EP’s over the last year.
When Rivers Meet – We Fly Free (One Road Records)
Release Date: 20 November 2020
Words: Mark Rotherham
‘We Fly Free’ is Blues Rock, but do not for one second think that you have heard this before or that it is going to sound tired. This is twelve tracks of serious music, which does not take itself seriously and is is amazing that sheer talent can do that very thing.
The album opens with ‘Did I Break the Law’, starting with a full throated Peter Gunn soundalike rhythm. This song is catchy, foot tapping stomp-box Blues, played with sweet, muddy distorted guitar from Aaron Bond and oversewn by Grace Bond’s deep and powerful singing.
‘Bound for Nowhere’ has a moody reverb intro, coming at you straight from the Everglades, with haunting, dark vocals and an emotional build-up. Then the riff kicks in and sends that cold spear of ice right up and down your spine. like the devil’s knuckles playing pattycake on your bones.
‘Walking on the Wire’ is all slide guitar and dirty, tobacco stained Blues. It is old and second hand, but it feels brand new and that is the real testament to this couples musical ability. Right the way through, solos and riffs compete for your attention. “Are you the fortunate son”, the song asks, and yes you are, if you are listening to this.
‘I’d Have Fallen’ is a slow tempo start, with honey-coated, tragic vocals. “She had no choice”, sings Grace, “she was made to break the law, and haven’t we all done that?” This song oozes class, depth and sheer musicianship. ‘Battleground’ stamps its way straight into the Rock sound, but the voice is firmly in the Blues and what a fusion it is. Desperation and defiance seeps from every pore of the song, striking a chord with anyone who has lived just an ounce of life and wants more, much more, before it is all over.
‘Kissing the Sky’ has a great stop-start rhythm opening, with the theme celebrating the power of woman over man. ‘Breaker of Chains’ has got a deep bass opening that takes you right back to the bayou again and the song then transforms into a moody duet chorus of vocals and a thundering tight drum line, that runs right through it like a stick of rock from the Devil’s own pantry.
Is that a bell ring at the start of ‘I Will Fight’, dueting with slide guitar and piano? As with many of the tracks on this album, the song builds up with drums and haunting vocals. The drama, emotion and desperation of the blues is all here, along with regret and a determination that will appeal to Rock and Metal fans alike.
‘Bury My Body’ starts with a whistling intro and duet about burial plans after a life of regret, or is that a regretted life? Either way, how much more Blues than that can you get? This is a slow, powerful ballad with a clean acoustic accompaniment, but the drumming and harsh piano keeps it urgent and full sounding. “When it’s done, it’s done” the song tells us, “it don’t matter if you’ve been good or bad, you’ll end up underground”. But this is the Blues, so we know that Grace Bond is singing about a bad person, bad to the bone.
‘Take Me to the River’ has an intoxicating, chugging Blues rhythm that would revive a corpse, while ‘Friend of Mine’ is another slow song with moody slide guitar that gradually sucks you in. Once more Grace Bond’s voice sends a high velocity shot right through you, but definitely in a good way. This track is easily for me her best vocal on the album and that is a hard distinction to make
‘We Fly Free’ is both the title track and the last song on the album. The drum and dirty guitar stamp this song onto your brain and, just one more time, Grace Bond’s voice hammers up and down your spine. The duo are flying free and they are not asking you.
‘We Fly Free’ is Blues Rock from Heaven, fresh and vital which makes you feel like you are hearing this style of music for the first time.
Every single track on this album hits you right between the eyes like a smooth-powder slug from an amnesty .45.
Like the Nickelback lyric almost said, you have heard it before, but not like this.
It is phenomenal, aching and regretful, with tragic life lyrics infused with a whiskey seam of hope and all of it beautifully and clearly produced.
An absolutely utterly brilliant debut album. Please can we get a vaccine soon, because I can not wait to see this live.