Album Review: Rob Reid – Paradise (Winner of New Music Friday – Ep 13)

Rob Reid writes real music that will put you in mind of guys like Tom Petty and Don McLean. He’s not the type to adjust what he sings to the charts or the whims of some type of industry survey. He sings about the raw realities of life. There are some nicely balanced vocals and a lot of grit on this album Paradise, a salvo for ordinary people who spend their time working hard, hoping for rewards in the everlasting.

“Paradise” starts off the album with a classic rock vibe. It’s the kind of “hardhat” song that is characteristic both of folk music and classic rock. It’s about personal identity and moving on with the difficulties of real life. He tells stories and grapples with the temporality of life on earth. The reflections are not overly symbolic, preferring rather to confront life head on. The chord structure echoes other classic rock songs, creating a familiar-yet-fresh sound.

I really appreciate the sentiment of “Honest Monday.” It’s more of a country song that some others on the album, with that folksy charm of the working life. Actually the electric guitar solo on this track is one of my favorite parts of the whole album. Although it’s not stylistically outlaw country, there is a similarity in the attitude portrayed here. It’s about living hard life and “trying to make do.”

“Roll On” is a toast to a variety of different people, especially those who have come before us. It’s an interesting combination of “let’s do this” ethos along with respect for the past. It seems like the kind of song that would get everyone in the bar saying “hell yeah!” There’s a part about poets and prophets, too, so it really does a nice job of echoing that Don Henley chill rock style nicely. Sometimes the production seems a bit too smooth for the overall style of the track, but it’s hardly a fault for a song to sound too good.

The track “Devil’s Shoulder” is maybe stylistically my favorite on the entire album. It comes across as a singer songwriter standard, complete with a blues chord progression and some deeply thought provoking lyrics. It’s dark in just the right way. “Searching for the answers of forgiveness… the flame that burns the brightest burns the quickest.” Well, we could just spend the next hour thinking about that one, couldn’t we? It’s that kind of thoughtful writing that sets this particular track apart from the rest of the album. I’d love to hear Reid spend more time in this intellectual and creative space.

“Don’t Mean to Confuse You” has an upbeat style that feels almost like a different artist. It still has a ton of heart and energy, but it’s a different feeling altogether. Some of the guitar riffs sound familiar, but the song overall is definitely a bit more progressive than some of the others. The last track “All My Friends” is definitely a bar closer. It will get everyone up out of their seats. It reminds me of Charlie Daniels from the good old days. The song will get your toes tapping and make you smile about your family and friends.

Overall, Reid’s style is likeable across the board. He toes the line of country and rock in different ways. The song that won him the competition was “Paradise,” but honestly “Devil’s Shoulder” is the best track on the album. I am glad to keep an ear out for Reid’s incisive commentary packaged in familiar American music standard music styles.

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