The new album “Aces Are High” is due to be released on the band’s Independent Label: One Road Records, on September 15th. Here at the office, this has been a much awaited album. They are absolutely one of our favourite rock n’ blues bands, and there was a mini fight over who got to do the review; I won!
“When Rivers Meet” spoke to us in December at the time of their Christmas release, “It’s The Time of Year.” They told us about songwriting,
Aaron: Usually, we have the exact same idea in mind for how we want a song to sound, but we both agree that if we don’t immediately love it, we throw it out. We typically write our own sections for songs independently. Grace works on the music, and I write the lyrics.
When Rivers Meet, picture by Rob Blackham
Grace: A song may begin with a lyric, a beat, or a riff, and we built around that. Once we have solid ideas, we collaborate to finish the song. We often write rapidly because Aaron is a creative lyricist and works very fast.”
Regarding the new album “Aces Are High,” the duo says, “As our music is progressing, we’re finding our sound even more. When we went in the studio this time, we’ve never been so sure on what we wanted to create—we had a really clear vision and have stuck to it.”
Before, we held back on being too rocky, but this time we allowed ourselves to create what we wanted to hear, without restricting ourselves. We also allowed ourselves to express the different colours of our music with tracks like “Golden” and “By Your Side,” so this album has more extremes. We still call upon our influences from all the years but remain true to ourselves to create music we love.”
With this in mind, on to the review!
ACES ARE HIGH
Instantly, we are taken into a harder, rocky edged sound, slightly reminiscent of “Did I Break the Law.” It opens into this downbeat riff, and it has a heavy drum sound alongside it that roots this melody. Grace’s vocals, as always, deliver from the start.
2. “Seen It All Before”
This is a slower number with a more blues based sound. It has lyrics that slot in well with the beat, a number that you could see the fists punching to in the pits. It is an interesting track.
3. “Play My Game”
“Play My Game,” is a driving blues track with rich riffs and searing vocals, I liked the harmony background vocals here that lift the song’s chorus. It’s a bold statement of intent with a badass video to boot, capturing a poker game gone south leading to a high-speed car chase and daring aeroplane escape. The song slips intensity levels and, again, has a strong bass and drum sound that allows the vocals to take flight.
Golden slips direction and has Aaron initially on vocals with Grace harmonising, and then Grace takes over. It is very different for the duo, but I really liked it a lot. It reminded me of Stone Temple Pilots on their “Perdida” album. The duo got it spot on, and with an influx of folk into the mix, it nailed it for me. Well Done.
5. “Aces Are High”
This one returned the duo to more familiar territory. It is more of a slow and harder rocking number, I’m guessing that it closes side one of the vinyl! Possibly because I liked the last track so much, I was a little less into this one. It is the title track of the album and pulls no punches, however.
6. “Trail To Avalon”
The mythical island in Arthurian Legend is the topic of this track. Aaron handles the main vocals, with Grace supplying some incredible power vocals for the chorus, and her mandolin also features in this number. Boom!
7. “Perfect Stranger”
“Perfect Stranger,” is about how husband-and-wife duo Aaron and Grace Bond first met. Says Grace, “Our relationship is intense and creative. We wanted to write a song that reflected that tension throughout.” The music video reflects the passion and drive of When Rivers Meet. You should have heard this one already, as it has been available as a single for a while. It is one of the highlights on the album, the chorus and the shifts in direction in the piece are majestic; I love the melody shift to the “Perfect Stranger” line. It is an immediate track that basically states where the duo are musically now.
When Rivers Meet, picture by Rob Blackham
8. “The Secret”
This one is an out-and-out rocker,
“I’m a victim of fire within…”
I’m sure it will feature in the live set as it rips along and lets the guitars go through the grinder.
9. “By Your Side”
This one returns to a dreamy ballad, it is a song to slip into literal dreamland over a very late night glass of wine! It shows the diversity they are blending into their music now, and with the album, there is space to breathe and introduce this side of them. I hope they do this one on their internet shows, which are always so much fun.
10. 5 Minutes Until Midnight
This closes the album in the style of Kiss in their “Revenge” era; so we are talking music with rocks in! Again, it shows how they slip styles on this album far more than they have done previously,
“On the bridge of something new…”
I think they are!
And the overview of the album as a whole:
Standout tracks: “Perfect Stranger,” “Golden,” and “Infected.”
And the album is a rocket ride, they reached for the stars and got there!
I’m always glad when I’m so excited about a release and it meets my expectations. They are one of the bands to listen to in 2023. I would say for anyone who loves rock and blues, you have to get it!
By: Lorraine Foley
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