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PAUL RODGERS Midnight Rose

By Jay Roberts, Massachusetts Contributor
Wednesday, December 20, 2023 @ 10:26 AM


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PAUL RODGERS
Midnight Rose

Sun Records - 2023
http://www.paulrodgers.com




While singer PAUL RODGERS has been rather prolific in his recording career with bands such as BAD COMPANY, FREE, THE FIRM and even with the QUEEN WITH PAUL RODGERS project, his solo career with ORIGINAL material has been decidedly less prolific. Sure he's released a lot of covers projects and such but the last time he released a solo album of original material was the 1999 album Electric.

Now 73-years old and having dealt with some serious health setbacks in recent years, the announcement he was going to release the Midnight Rose album came as a bit of a surprise to me when I first heard about it. A welcome surprise, no doubt, but still unexpected.

The album is made up of eight tracks which is shorter than most albums these days but quality over quantity was my hope going into things. The album liner notes are packed with information including an explanation of each photo included in the album cover art, which I thought was a nice touch. There's a brief essay from Rodgers explaining how the album came to be as well. As for the music, the album starts off rather strongly with the song "Coming Home". Written by Rodgers (one of the 6 tracks he wrote on his own) and dedicated to veterans and frontline workers (see the back of the CD for that write up), the song kicks off with a lively drum beat thump that keys into the rest of the music having a kind of swinging uptempo vibe to it. The song also clues you into the fact that if there is some kind of fountain of youth for singers, PAUL RODGERS has drunk quite his fill from it because his voice is still just freaking amazing! That drumbeat I mentioned (from Rick Fedyk) continues throughout the course of the song...it really stuck in my head. I just love this song!

That same kind of upbeat rocking energy continues on in the song "Photo Shooter". The album features both guitarists Rick Roper and Keith Scott but I'm not sure who exactly is playing on this particular track, but the playing is sweetly smoking and with Rodgers bringing life to the subject of the song, it's another keeper of a track. Co-written with his wife Cynthia, PAUL RODGERS takes the album's title track to a far more restrained territory. It's a smoothly flowing ballad for the most part that grows a little more lively as the song runs through but good gawd this is a song that could be considered "touching" without crossing the line into sappiness.

The rock returns on "Living It Up". The song was co-writen with bassist Todd Ronning and drummer Rick Fedyk (who play in the solo band for PAUL RODGERS) and features a lyrical trip through time as well as an appreciation of his career here in America from Rodgers. I really liked how the song is a rocker yet doesn't feel forced to be harder or heavier than it needs to be.

The song "Dance In The Sun" is another lively track. There's a nice acoustic guitar flaring up in spots in the song and the backing vocals from Leslie Page give the song an extra dimension and some dramatic heft as a counterbalance to the vocals from Rodgers. Just a classy song throughout.

The playing on "Take Love" is out of this world. Page's backing vocals are evident once more and are superb. But the way PAUL RODGERS rocks out yet again surely catalyzes the belief that he's not about to sit back and rest on his past laurels at this point. The guitar playing here is immensely cool as well. I also have to make note of the piano from Chuck Leavell for playing a key role in tying the song together that much tighter for me.

I wanted to avoid any kind of comparisons to BAD COMPANY music when talking about the Midnight Rose album but when I got to the song "Highway Robber", I couldn't help but feel it was at least a tiny bit a natural successor to the "Bad Company" song that the band first hit it big with on their debut album way back in the 1970's. That is by no means saying that it feels like you've heard it before though. The pacing is different, and there's a bit more going on musically speaking. But there's something about the way the lyrics as written combined with Rodgers vocals brought me to reminisce about the former track in a very positive way.

The album closing "Melting" has an interesting twist to it. The track showcases the vocals from PAUL RODGERS (as you might expect), but this time the music is pretty much low in the mix for the first couple of minutes of the song. After that, you get this intense burst where the music comes more to the forefront than before. Pretty rocking at that point to say the least. It's a pretty effective stylistic choice and finishes off the album on a high note.

Dripping in that combined blues, rock and soul signature sound that PAUL RODGERS is an acknowledged master of, Midnight Rose is not only one of the more surprising albums of 2023 but it is also one of the year's most effective and affecting albums at the same time.

5.0 Out Of 5.0


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