It has been almost 25 years since Paul Rodgers has released a solo album. This well-known British-Canadian singer, songwriter, and musician for supergroups like Free, Bad Company, The Firm and The Law is back with a whole new set of songs to offer a hopeful glance towards the future. Rodgers is considered one of Rolling Stone’s ‘Greatest Singers of all Time’ and with his latest album Midnight Rose we get to see this put into action and accompanied by infectious instrumentals.
“Coming Home” is the first song on the album where we get a solid drum beat and guitar combo that creates that classic rock sound Rodgers’ voice is so used to singing. In this song he claims that he has “Been a long way from shelter/Now I’m back from the storm/And I can’t wait to hold you and keep you from harm.” A song about romance but it could also be a metaphor for Rodgers’ long break from releasing music before returning to his fans. He holds onto some long notes in this one and it’s a great introduction for what’s to come for the rest of the album.
The third song on the album is the title track “Midnight Rose.” In this song Rodgers crafts an image of a red rose in a room full of smoke. It would die in that environment but if you take it out of that room it would come alive again. The rose could be another metaphor but for taking someone out of a difficult situation and reassuring them that they are not alone. With clever lyricism like, “If I took her from the smoke and the gloom/I’m sure she would spring to life” and “I am not alone/You are not alone/We are not alone/We are never alone” Rodgers provides comfort and reassurance to listeners. The harmonies and clapping sounds utilized in this track compliment his voice to give those who are struggling that little bit of hope to get by.
We delve into some harder rock with “Living It Up.” There is a lot of focus put on the bass and drums to get that more rock n’ roll bluesy type of sound. Rodgers mentions some of his musical influences in this one too— “Otis Redding, Aretha, and Ray Charles too/You know they changed my game.” Rodgers is able to make this such a personal song by referencing artists that he has covered songs by, performed with, and been inspired by. These are people that he claims “re-live the emotion” when they sing, and he wants his singing to come across that way too.
Besides mentioning some of his biggest influences, Rodgers also incorporates some familiar sounds from his previous experiences being in different rock groups. For example, one of the most popular tracks on the album is “Take Love.” Described as being “the anthem of the rock and roll church”, this song is one in which you can hear some influence from Rodgers’ old group Bad Company. It is safe to say that although Rodgers is advancing in his career as a solo artist, he will not forget his time in some of the most legendary classic rock groups that got him to where he is today.
The final song on the album is called “Melting.” This track lets us hear Rodgers’ deeper vocals and has that old school Mississippi blues sound to it. This song is definitely a standout track because it reaches a point where the acoustic melodies change into a more electric rock sound. A memorable ending for sure.
With the album Midnight Rose, Rodgers creates such a positive atmosphere with words like “The hurting time is over now/I’m ready to dance in the sun” and tells us to “Take love when you find it.” The feel-good guitar, strong vocals ranging from high to low notes, and storytelling elements all make up this gem of an album that Rodgers considers to be one of the best projects he has done in his career. Any classic rock and blues fans should check out this latest collection of eight songs because Paul Rodgers is back and better than ever!
Reviewed by Carmen Zdanis