If there is one single artist that emerged from the 1980s glam music scene that never ceases to amaze, it is Tom Keifer. Artistically, he never seems content to settle, and throughout his career, it is clear to see how he has grown and changed musically. He is a multi-talented musician, singer and showman. For this reason, I think most of us were eagerly awaiting the release of his first ever solo album, "The Way Life Goes" earlier this year. Personally, I was a bit worried though... not about Tom and his ability to craft and record brilliant songs, but because this album took about 10 years to be recorded and released. I was afraid that it would suffer from "Chinese Democracy" Syndrome, meaning that over the years of waiting, expectations were built up so high that no matter how great the end product was, it could never live up to what we all had in our minds. However, when the beginning of the opening track "Solid Ground" really kicks in and Tom hits that amazing scream, all seems right with this album.
To be clear, this is NOT a Cinderella album, but that should not scare longtime fans of Tom from purchasing this album. "The Way Life Goes" is a solid album of well written and produced songs. Personally, I am a huge fan of Tom's "clean" voice and and glad he uses it more on this release, His grainy rock voice (more closely associated with the classic Cinderella tunes) is on the album too, but overall it is perfect blend of both styles. "Thick and Thin" has to be one of my favorite tracks, and it is perfectly followed up by "Ask Me Yesterday." "The Flower Song" and "Cold Day In Hell" are also both stand out tracks. However, in my humble opinion, "Solid Ground" is, by far, the strongest track on the album and is a near perfect song.
The kicker is I was lucky enough to get one of the tour dates in my area, and was able to see Tom perform in support of this album. The show took place at the Palace Theater in Stafford Springs, CT (by far the best venue to open in the area in ages... big stage, great sound, friendly staff, reasonable prices). John Corabi opened the show playing some acoustic songs and did a fine job. He is funny, personable and extremely talented. Unfortunately for Corabi, his set was completely overshadowed when Tom Keifer and his band took the stage. I have seen Cinderella many times in the past (they are one of the bands I'll actually travel to see, as I never leave a show disappointed), but Tom seems to have a renewed energy playing the new songs with the new band. He seems entirely comfortable in his new skin, and it was apparent on stage, from his energy level to the smile that was present most of the night. Sure he played some Cinderella classics (he is no dummy and knows that everyone wants to hear them), but he added twists to many of them and had his wife join him on vocals on others. But he also played a number of songs off the new album and a cover or two as well. Tom was smiling and telling stories, and seemed genuinely appreciative of the fact that so many people were there supporting him that night. I imagine, as much as he must love Cinderella, playing the same songs for so many years must get tiresome at times. This project seems to have awoken something up inside Tom, which is evident both live and listening to "The Way Life Goes." I bought the album immediately upon its release and still play it regularly to this day, and if the tour comes within two hours of my home again, rest assured I will be there singing along.
To this day, Tom Keifer still has never let me down.