Breakout band Keeping Riley’s “Welcome Fire” might be one of the best indie albums of the year so far. For a group of eight guys, it’s a miracle that they can produce such breathtaking music and still keep the band together. This New Jersey octet plays in the style of jazz fusion, an enticing genre that many people are not familiar with but will grow to love after giving this album a listen.
The band deserves credit for its willingness to perfect older tracks and put a new, upgraded spin on them, which is exactly what they did with the opening song, “60 Days.” Their acoustic classic was given a new intro, a fresh guitar solo and smooth horns that compliment all other aspects of the song quite nicely.
“Baby It’s True” touches listeners with silky vocals and charming lyrics that will make every girl smile and wish her boyfriend would sing her songs like this. Plus, the saxophone solo is worth a standing ovation.
Lyrics about an interfaith marriage on “Brand New Brother” put a cultural spin on the album. While that may be an unusual musical topic, the band pulls it off with ease.
The album gets a hint of country on “Stop Me Now” with drums that take listeners on an upbeat country ride.
“You Should Know” is yet another sensational song in a series of tracks that any girl would love to have crooned to her, with vocalist Noah Hercky sweetly assuring a girl, “All this time I thought that you should know that you’re the one for me.”
The band gives an oddly pleasant Parisian café feel to “Glimpse of Day.” The busy keyboard creates a jazzy mood that’s sure to put a spring in anyone’s step.
“I Won’t Fight Back” is the album’s standout and also qualifies as a contender for this summer’s soundtrack for a make-out session. “I peel away her dress/Ooh, her hair’s a mess” are among the sexiest lyrics on the album, and that’s just a taste.
The guys bring back “Jersey” for a remake as well. Keeping Riley really stepped up their game by adding catchy horns and crashing cymbals that make the song easily danceable.
Another sexy track is “Sliding Doors,” a toned-down slow jam about feeling guilty for sneaking around to see a girl while cheating on another girl who deserves better.
“Save All Your Breath” features some light woodwind and beautiful vocal harmony throughout the song.
“Ten Years Alive,” a track about figuring yourself out and trying to get back on track, has a variation of tempos that makes the song a musical journey in and of itself. It’s definitely worth playing on repeat.
The album starts to wind down with the very simple and largely acoustic “Leaving Heaven,” a song about starting life out on the road with a band.
The only disappointments of the album are at the end on the radio edits of “60 Days” and “You Should Know,” but only because the instrumental breaks that define the band are cut out.
Overall, these guys have proved that it was well worth the three-year wait for the release of their third album, “Welcome Fire.” The music speaks volumes, so crank it up loud to discover the sounds of a New Jersey summer.
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