After experiencing the strength of Rick Shaffer’s previous album Outside Of Time the prospect of a new project to indulge in was an exciting one. In actual fact, if at all possible, Stolen Moments is even more of an explosion of energy, passion and grit than the former, and it’s addictively entertaining.
All I Want is the opener, and what a way to begin. Full throttle rock and roll, authentic grit and gravel in the voice and the distortion. Notably different to anything else I’ve heard from the songwriter, All I Want has something deeply real about it – the lyrics seem consumed by the chaos and beauty of being human, being lost within a lust for making music. It’s not dissimilar to the incomparably honest sound of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. The sound of Rick’s voice is superb, stylish and powerful, emotional, entirely engaged and seemingly married to this music and this artistry.
Downtown Suzy explodes in an equally attention grabbing manner. The guitars are out of this world, and the melodies and riffs featured bring about a touch of country rock, a hint of Primal Scream, a varied sense of songwriting and a definite moment of certainty and character. One In Five swings the indie anthem bat and offers up a memorable guitar riff and a song with plenty of space surrounding the lyrics, so you get a real sense of storytelling, as well as a further helping of almighty rock and roll.
Modern Lie is a huge song; from the moment it begins there’s something striking and quite special about it. The chord progression, the slightly softer sound, the additional vocal parts, the melody, the build up to the hook – this one is a stunning bit of songwriting. You can take home a copy of this song in an instant, for free; just click the link below…
Another beautifully honest and compelling song is Other One. This track leaves its mark for a number of reasons, not least of all that inherent depth and passion that comes through in the reflective storytelling, and the emotional vocal performance; gentler here for the most part. There’s a real touch of humanness to the writing and Rick Shaffer undoubtedly has a way with poetic expression, as well as a unique and interesting perspective on life. A fantastic song.
Higher is an infectiously enjoyable track, the rhythm and vibrancy of the piece just pours out through the speakers and incites a craving to witness the whole thing being performed live. The full band, real time experience is likely to be insanely good. There’s a sense of urgency to the song and it fills you with enthusiasm and a certain lust for life, in the way that only truly expressive, authentic music can. Rick Shaffer’s passion is incomparable, it drives these songs with intense purity and realness, and fortunately, his unquestionable level of experience means that every track is skilfully and effectively crafted.
There’s another moment of somewhat lighter rock and roll with Time Stays. The guitar riff running throughout creates a further touch of country rock and blues, and as the song progresses, the melody varies a little, and the good vibes seem to multiply. Call My Name follows on from this brilliantly. Stolen Moments is really a project that just gets better and better as it moves along. The sound becomes familiar, the energy settles in for the long run, and the ideas presented take on a new level of personality and intrigue.
Chopping Wood is a song in a world of its own. The opening instrumentation has the ultimate level of grit and boldness that just oozes creative freedom and storms into your consciousness with a manic sort of power. Then you get the final track of the collection, the smooth and seductive hit that is Danger Awaits. There’s a sense of space again here, the beat is thick and heavy yet mellow in pace, the reverb-soaked solo guitar moments flicker in and out of the mix. The bass line is spectacular – simple but solid in its attitude and relevance to the mood. And of course, right there on top of everything, Rick Shaffer’s vocal strength and immediacy offers up the concept and the story line as one last reminder of his unwavering presence, as one last stolen moment even. The artist is unstoppable, and the quality of the music is at an all time high.
• Rebecca Cullen (Musician and writer with an MA in Songwriting.)
Watch the “Modern Lie” video YouTube