AUGUST ALBUM OF THE MONTH
For those that bemoan where the next generation of rock talent is going to come from – you just have to open your eyes. I first stumbled across Fireroad by accident two years ago, when they supported The Quireboys for an acoustic show. I met Richard Jones at the bar afterwards and we agreed to have a chat sometime. Some weeks later, we did a quick interview and I played ‘Your Summer Sun’ a few times on my Friday show. The audience reaction was immediate and emphatic, so we decided to do more. Two years on, barely a rock show goes by without a requested spin for ‘Your Summer Sun’, ‘Before The Matinee’ or ‘Second Hand Soldier.’ And for two successive years, listeners have voted Fireroad into our year-end poll of the top 20 bands of the year. We’ve done two hour specials on the band and Richard has appeared on a range of interview specials on Queen, the Bowie tribute show and, more recently, my Seargent Peppers at 50 special. The rock show reaches a significant audience online, but aired from a small FM station one is left to ponder what impact the band could achieve if national stations gave their music a chance. Two years on from my first, chance encounter with the band, I have little doubt Fireroad has the potential to become a household name.
This second album from Fireroad completes a rite of passage for the band. Since 2014’s ‘I Got Sound’, the band has put the hard miles in, playing gigs to festival audiences and fans at intimate venues. This is not a manufactured band, or a heavily pushed band: It’s an authentic, real band that live to play music. They do it with big smiles on their faces and are as loyal to their fans as their fans are to them: If their fans want to see them, the band will jump in the van and give their fans a show. On this second album we have the sound of a band that are comfortable with whom they are, who know instinctively how these songs need to sound. It’s music that’s been waiting to be recorded and released. And it arrives with confidence, passion and charm.
With the album opener ‘Fall From The Skies’ – you could quite easily be at a Fireroad show, the track opens with the purpose and directness of an arresting concert opener. This is music suited in equal measure to a pub as a packed arena. The band’s reputation as a fluent and accomplished live unit – with strong chemistry between the band members – translates onto this album, giving it a natural feel and sense of performance: In one word – authentic.
‘Minute’ is already an established live favourite. The restless pace also sets up the album’s first showcase for inspiring guitar solos. Like so many of the band’s songs, there is a sense of drama and life in the music. Instantly catchy. Hard to ignore. Almost impossible to dislike.
‘Your Summer Sun’ for me feels like a trusty pair of old slippers, having aired this on my show for over a year. It’s a deep-rooted listener favourite on my Friday show and is one of those songs that somehow always retains that magical excitement of the first play. It’s a perfect anthem for summer festival-goers and is screaming to be a radio single. For mainstream stations that have lost interest in playing relevant, young and contemporary rock bands, ‘Your Summer Sun’ is the song to re-open eyes. It’s a driving classic for music lovers well beyond the traditional rock genre, with warmth in the verses, soaring choruses and a great eye for melody. Some songs are released for summer – the great ones are about what it feels to be alive in summer.
‘Bones’ returns us to a more intense stomper with a rougher edge – a bit more venom, attitude and grit. This is followed by ‘Light As A feather,’ which offers a change of pace and mood. A bit like ‘Rain Water’ from the first album, the verses here present a slightly more stripped back, vulnerable side to the band, which evolves into engaging, anthematic choruses. Another bonafide radio single here, I have a feeling rock radio may warm to this one. ‘Light As A Feather’ is a well-constructed song, not over-baked and not trying to be over-clever. This is just a good, complete song. It’s near impossible not to sing along or react somehow by the end of the second chorus – whether you’re at a gig, driving to work or doing the ironing on a wet Sunday afternoon. This is a song that can be part of the soundtrack of any person’s day.
Mid-way through the album, one gets to notice that these songs aren’t faded in or out. This band knows how to start and finish songs properly and this gives them extra punch.
To many that have seen the band live, Fireroad is known to be a ‘smiling band’ – it’s music that conveys a feel good factor, by a band that want you to know they are happy to be playing music for you. From a few conversations I’ve had with Richard, he has made the point that Fireroad’s music isn’t aiming to change the world with complex political messages, but when they do tackle topical issues they do it with aplomb. ‘Second Hand Soldier’ I premiered on my Friday show some months ago, and it tackles the way servicemen and women are let down when they return to civvie street. It’s a song based on a real story and the Fireroad treatment is significant. There’s no political soapbox behind this song. It’s a real story tacked in a human way with a lot of heart, honesty and passion – the Fireroad way I guess.
With ‘Devil’s letter’ we are back to a signature Fireroad up-tempo rocker, a guaranteed fan fave for the concert hall. ‘Wine and Honey’ I first heard from the band’s knock out performance at Wildfire Festival 2017 and it was my highlight from that set. It’s not my personal favourite on the new album, but is perhaps the strongest song – a kind of standard-bearer for the album as it breathes everything Fireroad as a band is about.
‘All We Have’ closes the album and is an unexpected pleasure. Just by the time you think you’ve got the full measure of ‘Flesh, Blood & Bone’, the band presents another fresh twist to close this masterful album. In a song that has more than a hint of Springsteen to it, this emotional song about the power to endure – to keep going and overcome – also reminded me of The Answer’s ‘Tunnel’ that closed their ‘Solas’ album. Given the times we are living in, where for many life is uncertain and a struggle, this isn’t just a fine song – it’s an anthem for the ‘now.’ With ‘All We Have’ Fireroad remind us that it’s often during times of struggle and uncertainty that rock music can flourish the most, showing its heart and having something to say that touches a nerve.
This new album lands at a time when the band seems to be on the rise. Their appearance at Winter’s End was a milestone for Fireroad and turned heads, whilst at Wildfire they are fast becoming a house band. The ‘home’ media in Wales are covering the band and Fireroad’s tour dates with The Stereophonics represent yet another big step forward. Fireroad’s story is one of hard work, commitment and self-belief, whatever the odds. Their strength is grounded in a band persona that is authentic, honest and true. In a music industry with so much spin and hype, Fireroad is perhaps the rock antidote and one has a sense that quality will outlive fashion. The only question is when?
On the evidence of ‘Flesh, Blood & Bone’ one has a sense a lot more people will be talking about Fireroad by the end of 2017 and – from a band that are known for making people smile – this could go some way to making the world a much happier place.
Discover Fireroad and order the new album from http://www.fireroadrock.com