There’s nothing all that fancy or pretentious about The Rising Souls, but they do bring more than your average plodding AOR dad-pleasers. There’s a versatility here that you don’t often encounter on a debut effort. From the relatively heavy ‘Hold That Gun’, and its pretty respectable guitar solo, to the ballad ‘Say Goodbye’, the band manages to maintain their own sound throughout without becoming a one-trick pony. While not every track is as good as others – particularly towards the end – the effort is made to do something different with each, and they’re saved from coming across as filler. Just when things seem to be getting a little stale, something unexpected will come in, like an organ, reminiscent of The Doors, or they’ll go into a 60’s style breakdown for the last minute, as on opening track ‘Change You’.
The other thing that really impresses here is the raw, impassioned vocals of Dave Archibald. Comparisons to Frankie Miller are not unwarranted. It is his soulful, bluesy inflections that elevate The Rising Souls from basement AOR fodder to absolute ones to watch. To employ a tedious comparison, think somewhere between Joe Cocker and Robert Plant. At times extremely impressive in range and tone, Archibald makes every song seem fresh and interesting.
Musically, The Rising Souls do much to warrant attention. There’s a great sense of chemistry within the band, and the musicianship is impressive all round. However, while they never lose sight of the importance of melody, there is perhaps a slight lack of punchy, truly catchy choruses. ‘Sound of the Radio’ is a truly successful three and a half minute potential single, but otherwise, everything is good, but not the metaphorical punch in the face needed to make the world at large take notice.
Overall, there’s no doubt The Rising Souls are a decent, potentially great band. There’s enough here to make them incredibly likeable. Hopefully with a little more ambition they’ll accomplish something truly special in future.