Gary Douglas is a superb songwriter, this much is clear from the first verse and chorus alone of his single River Road. The story-telling in the verses – the scene setting, the character set-up, the imagery – it all leads powerfully up towards this infectious and immediately satisfying hook section. And all of this goes without yet turning to the musicality of the track.
You could, by all accounts, embrace and appreciate a totally raw, acoustic performance of this song – the later moments that showcase purely the artist’s voice and a piano part underline this idea. However, to listen to it among all of its full-band glory is a brilliant addition to the experience. The warmth and vibrancy of the way the whole song has been crafted and built up make for something that hits with impact – not unlike the rock ballad classics of yesteryear, in some respects. Gary Douglas’ leading voice furthers this nostalgic connection.
The musicianship and passion that brings this song to life are crucial in carrying its sentiment and story-line through in such an all-encompassing, compelling manner. The music grabs you, this meeting of the piano, the guitars, the organic drum-line, and not least of all that part delicate part mighty leading voice – all of this in unison creates precisely the sort of escapism that music fans so often turn to. The live sound is forever valuable, it brings with it so much realness; it reminds you to go out and enjoy the incredible music the world has to offer.
This particular song has been beautifully captured here, it feels complete yet also somewhat caught in the moment – a single take explosion of sorts. Throughout the experience you may lean back and forth between comparisons with Elton John, Meat Loaf, Bon Jovi, and a whole lot of other big names who wrote and write big songs. River Road helps out immensely in earning Gary Douglas his spot up there with them.