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"When You Were Mine" by The Rising

Review

When last week I told you of The Rising's collaboration with Tiernán Heffron called "Come Closer", I offered the observation that "this is a band who never rest on their laurels: indeed there is an impression of constant artistic restlessness with them as they seek to refine their craft, move on with their music & avoid the potential horror of repeating themselves", which seems to have touched a chord with the band.  

Almost immediately confirmation & amplification of my assessment arrived in the shape of a listen to their next single in their own right, the hot & sizzling "When You Were Mine" which is out on 20th May. In some ways you can tell it's a Rising song (Chantelle's vocalisation is frankly unmistakeable and the lyrics continue down the road they've taken for the last couple of years: taking on darker & more challenging subjects) but the sound is a long way from that which I heard when I first encountered their music.

Funnily enough, the first time I saw them live, I was sufficiently impressed with the energy with which Chris threw himself around (and this was to tunes a lot gentler than "When You Were Mine") that I perceived a real punk mentality in there: something which at the time he didn't really go along with.

A few years down the line & the "country pop" stylings of their previous self descriptions have moved much closer to a punky energy & guitar sound: this is closer to something like The Undertones than anything you'll have heard from them before. That it was mastered by a man (Pete Maher) who has performed the same service for U2, The Rolling Stones, The Killers and Snow Patrol, makes a lot of sense.

As the song will in time (September) appear on their next album, whose Kickstarter campaign was recently successfully concluded, we certainly can anticipate a collection of considerable progression if this is characteristic of it.

Recorded at their own Renegade Maverick Studios with drums (as with most recent tracks) provided from Nashville by Chris Brush, "When You Were Mine" has a title which strongly suggests the fond reminiscences of a relationship now ended. It's not. The relationship is simply a one night stand with a friend and consequently the lyrics are far fuller with barbs, remorse & guilt than the standard nostalgia piece would go for.

I really admire how the band are so much more interested in the complexities of realistic & flawed human interactions than in imagining more trite & idealised fictions simply to meet the expectations of the more mainstream media. I'm sure this far more integrity driven approach will pay off in the long run when people cotton on to the fact that The Rising are, dare we say it, "different" to other bands and not desperate to copy anyone else as far too many artists currently seem prone to doing.

As they have developed along these much more interestingly & rewarding lines, other factors have entered the picture: one of which is the addition of offering little bits of detail which while not, on paper, advancing the narrative in an essential way, nevertheless enhance the emotional heft of what's under discussion & elevate the lyrics to a higher plane. This time round, listen for the tart reference to David Gray's ‘White Ladder' album playing on repeat through the sordid episode: it's little memories like this which of course twist the knife deeper in the regretful memories. 

As I also wrote the other day "it would be easy & possibly lucrative for the band to pander to expectations and force themselves into the tight confines of a popular genre, but to their great credit, artistic exploration & growth seem key for The Rising & long may their courage & hard work be rewarded" and again this new release seems to demand that I reprint it.

The band have been steadily building critical & popular support over the last few years and despite their own worries that COVID19 and indeed other recent health issues within the band might have not just slowed the momentum down but damaged it, I think the evidence is to the contrary. They are still clearly on the radar of festival bookers and of radio producers & the online feedback from fans suggests a growth of their fanbase. It also looks too as if they are carrying this audience with them as they develop their music.

If you want to encapsulate the growing confidence of The Rising in both their evolving artistry & their ability to explain where they are going, it is best to go to their own words, explaining why they abandoned an acoustic setting for "When You Were Mine" in favour of this more aggressive arrangement: "…like a lot of the duo's music, the song itself guides the way instead of being forced into a certain genre". To be so focused on the song & so committed to presenting it in a way which best represents it, even at the cost of challenging expectations, is something greatly to admire.

One claim I very much tend to avoid making is to suggest a song I am reviewing is a favourite of mine by that artist: after all, why should my tastes prevail over anyone else's? When I do venture such an opinion, I hope therefore it carries the weight of relative rarity. The Rising have produced so many thought provoking tracks over the last couple of years that I'd not find it easy, nor necessary, to pick on any, but what I do feel is that the sound they've got on "When You Were Mine" suits their playing & singing & excites me: if the album as a whole went in this direction, you'd hear no complaints from me….

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"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" by The Rising

Review

I have to confess that when I heard that the new single by The Rising (out today) was to be their version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", I was perplexed. After all, the band, despite the recent disappointments of the paucity of live opportunities, have really enhanced their reputation as writers with a string of excellent and well received original releases: they even have put out original festive songs in the past. So why do a cover at all, let alone one which to be honest has been covered an awful lot (and not necessarily always terribly tastefully)? This doesn't sound much like the band we have come to know & love.

The truth, you probably won't be surprised to hear is that this is not a moment of curious inconsistency or lack of self belief in their own creative abilities, but there is a jolly good & indeed admirable reason.I'm afraid that Chantelle's Grandfather passed away earlier in 2021 & she had customarily sung this, his favourite Christmas song to him. Thus it seems entirely appropriate as a tribute to him for them to record a version for posterity & so we can all experience what previously only her family would have heard.

Unsurprisingly, a song, cover or not, sung with evident love and commitment this personal is going to sound authentic and (excuse my bias) The Rising seem only interested in performing in this fashion. I've heard many (too many?) other takes on this old song (written in 1943 by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, although there have been suggestions that is was purely by the former) and while I can't criticise the affecting and lightly arranged Judy Garland original (where she certainly imbues the lyrics with some sense of meaning) or Sinatra's version, there are a lot of very heavily & overwrought  arranged and produced takes wherein the words seem merely a formula to be bellowed out over the tune. Sensibly & tastefully, The Rising return to basics in this respect & lay off such a approach, leaving, as is so rightly the case under the circumstances, the focus on Chantelle & her voice.

As I have tried to emphasise before, her voice is often, quite rightly, praised for its range, power and sense of the dynamic, but over the last couple of years she has time and again explored the possibilities of the poignant and melancholic to excellent effect, as she does again here. And it is, in all truth a much more poignant and downbeat song than most contemporary takes acknowledge (Sinatra famously found it so downbeat that he requested lyrical variations) so all credit to Chris and Chantelle for restoring its original qualities after decades of abuse. Obviously it was selected due to it being her Grandfather's favourite, yet just in the tone of the song, it fits as a tribute to him: they really do bring out the pathos beautifully.

Chris for his part has composed a guitar centred arrangement which accentuates this quality: restrained, simple and dignified and though you may focus on the vocals, his work deserves attention, not least his right on target solo. And anyone who can release a Christmas single & resist the temptation to plaster sleigh bell sounds over it gets my vote….

Listen out for too The Rising's special Christmas livestream on Monday December 20th & let them know if there's something you'd like them to play.

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‘No Hope Without Love' EP by The Rising

Review

If you have been reading my more recent reviews of The Rising, then it will not be news to you that they've been steadily releasing each of the five constituent tracks of their ‘No Hope Without Love' EP as singles in their own right. Consequently, on this, the day of the actual release of said EP, you've already heard my thoughts on each of the songs: starting with the original version of "You Had It All" back in April, then "Bruise You Left" in June,  July's "Break The Chains", "Highway to the Lost & Found" (in August) and finally "You Had It All (Reimagined)" at the end of September.

Well I suppose I could copy & paste those reviews to reflect the whole as well as the parts, but I'd like to think that what I said had already left something of an impression and it would make for an overlong piece too. Please do feel free to reread the articles to refresh your memory though.

It's an interesting idea to release music in this way & I hope it helps The Rising's talents get appreciated as they deserve. I certainly grasp that economically it works better than most other options & I think it is a great way of ensuring that each song gets maximum exposure & airplay and is appreciated in its own right. I am sure no artist ever intentionally writes "filler", but it is certain that on most conventional albums, some tracks will neither get airplay nor the full attention of every listener.

The songs were of course created by Chris Logan & Chantelle McAteer at their Renegade Maverick studio with Pete Maher mastering. Chris Brush despatched drum parts from Nashville while Stephen A Quinn co-wrote "You Had It All" and duets with Chantelle on the first version of it.

I considered each track to be very strong in its own right, and taken as a single artefact, you get a much more obvious sense of the variety between the songs: even the two version of one of them are very different. It's great to witness their exploration of different styles throughout the journey of putting the collection together, and as my individual reviews emphasised, they are moving significantly away from the country/pop stylings that they & others (myself included) were using in press releases and reviews to try to capture their sound. It's now only a part of who they are in October 2021. It's equally exciting to be able to witness their journey in this respect. One might also note that the whole EP develops the movement into deeper lyrical themes as originated in the "Shadows on the Wall" single.

The title of the EP actually derives from the lyrics of "Break The Chains" and is "..about looking at today's society and all the wrongs we do to each other and how we have to change it before there is nothing left..". Ultimately the inspiration was from Saint Augustine and there are few pop songs which one can say that about…

All the best to Chantelle & Chris. While their ‘Moving On' album was an excellent calling card for where they were say a mere two years ago, they are far from in that place now.  ‘No Hope Without Love' is a fine expression of the late 2021 Rising and is a handy starting point for anyone new to their music who wants to get the freshest sense of what to expect at any of the gigs I hope start coming their way again.

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"You Had It All (Reimagined)" by The Rising

Review

For those of you following the incremental release of The Rising's ‘No Hope Without Love' EP (and I hope that's you all), you may have counted that we are up to the fifth (of five) singles from it as Chris & Chantelle have been drawing the whole to our attention carefully & subtly so we can savour each component to its full before experiencing the complete artefact.

This final discrete component is called "You Had It All (Reimagined)" and comes out on 8th October. Does the title ring a bell? Are you intrigued by the bit in brackets?  In fact I reviewed their "You Had It All" single back in April and this latest release is in fact another look at the same basic song, albeit through another musical filter.

It might be worth having a look back at that previous review since I do cover some of the fundamentals there. However, the new formulation has qualities entirely of its own which are worthy of our attention. Whereas with its first incarnation I noted the rather Fleetwood Mac style approach to the arrangement and performance, this time around the arrangement is radically different: much more intimate and acoustic in nature based around a piano played by guest John McCullough with a ‘cello contribution from Danny Boyle. Chris naturally is there in the mix on guitar, but it's a completely different contribution from him this time, much more restrained & offering extra textures of more ambient sounds to help the shadings of the other elements.

I suppose a big question is whether the performance Chantelle gives vocally on this version is superior or not to her first one, given the fact that it's inherently very different: this time much quieter and held on a leash compared with her trademark style. I honestly don't think that's a valid question really & certainly I'm neither prepared to nor interested in passing judgement. The whole points I think here are firstly that the band quite clearly feel that they have written a song (alongside Stephen A. Quinn) which is capable of different interpretations & that she has both the skills & taste to vary her approach to reflect that. Yes, one of the major calling cards of The Rising is Chantelle's immense power in singing & delivering high octane performances, but it's also worth commenting on her range of abilities and in the long run, the chance to deliver a diverse range of sounds is going to be much more useful to the band and their career.

I've certainly commented on her ability to vary how she sings in previous reviews and this to a large degree is encapsulated in the whole EP: as you will have seen from the songs to date, the collection is intended to demonstrate a range of abilities and interests and deliver a varied listening experience rather than several homogenous tracks. For example, this song could barely sound more different to its immediate predecessor "Highway To The Lost & Found", though one other theme of the EP is their interest in getting more and more into challenging lyrical territory. One issue I suppose that this approach will generate is the one we find ourselves contemplating today: subtle & mature lyrics may well create situations where they can be approached from different musical angles. Certainly the words of "You Had It All (Reimagined)" lend themselves really well to both arrangements which the band have shared.

Created at their own Renegade Maverick Studios, "You Had It All (Reimagined)" was mastered by Pete Maher (U2, Rolling Stones, The Killers, Snow Patrol etc).  It can be pre-ordered via this link: https://slinky.to/YouHadItAllReimagined and there is a teaser trailer here: https://youtu.be/QMgWIgNoYAo

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"Highway to the Lost & Found" by The Rising

Review

True to their mission, The Rising are back with a new single "Highway to the Lost & Found"  (due out on 3rd September) just over a month after the excellent "Break The Chains". Both tracks will eventually be also found on the ‘No Hope Without Love' EP in October: indeed this will be the fourth single from that EP.

Equally sticking to their guns, this latest song sounds nothing like its predecessor nor indeed anything else they have previously shared with us. This commitment to exploring the breadth of their musical interests and enthusiasms and keep their audience both entertained by the variety and startled by each successive release is laudable and they certainly avoid the trap of change for change's sake as every one to date has borne their trademark integrity and each one stands up thoroughly on its own merits.

This time round, the "rock" button is firmly depressed and it's a joy to hear both Chris on his guitar and Chantelle with her vocals let completely off the leash and allowed to rock out in their own unique ways. This is The Rising as you've heard before nor conceived of. As with the other recent tracks, they performed it all themselves bar the drums which arrived from Nashville courtesy of Chris Brush and they carried out all the production magic themselves at their own Renegade Maverick Studio with mastering by Pete Maher.

I loved it.

Titled after a comment Chris once made in an interview about careers in music and seeking to encapsulate the highs and lows of the journey, I expected from the title something similar to the bleak landscapes of say Ry Cooder or "Nebraska" type Springsteen songs, but in fact the song is more redolent of the bluesy bars and juke joints along the road than the wide open countryside between them. Spiced lyrically with anecdotes of life on the road, the song apparently came to the duo easily and made its life debut at their recent "Pub in the Park" gig in Warwick. It would not surprise me in the least if the song did not become a fixture in their set for a long while to come.

This is yet another facet of The Rising and as with the various styles they have previously embraced, they do it really well. While previously they very much identified with a country/pop crossover, it's interesting that their current attempt at self description is "whilst their music may cover a range of genres they are perhaps best described as blending the fresh-faced sounds of today's Pop/Rock with Modern Country Rock Stylings": quite a long and loose definition which reflects the nature of their releases over the past year or so, many of which have drifted quite a distance from their country departure point. It's a nice problem to have when you can't quite pin down your own music nor pigeonhole it and hopefully the media and audiences instead of being fazed by this (mainstream media don't half like the security of knowing which box an artist is in) will celebrate this. I know I do.

This is also a most timely opportunity too to publicly congratulate Chantelle on her successfully completing her degree in music and audio production at Queen's University, Belfast.

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"Bruise You Left" by The Rising

Review

The 4th of June marks the release date of the second single from the upcoming 'No Hope Without Love' EP by The Rising, namely "Bruise You ...
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"You Had It All" by The Rising

Review

That marvellously prolific band The Rising (Chris Logan & Chantelle McAteer) are continuing their highly commendable campaign to not let COVID19 ...
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"Ain't Nobody Got Me Here But Me" by The Rising

Review

One of the key aims of both the features on artists in this magazine & by spotlighting many of them in the "Hot Music Live Presents" series of albums ...
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"This Special Time Of Year" by The Rising

Review

We are definitely finding ourselves in the festive release period now & if the cover art for the new single from The Rising "This Special Time Of ...
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"2 AM Call" by The Rising

Review

There is something of a tightrope for artists to navigate: on one side the peril of producing so diverse a range of music that people can't join ...
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"Better Than This" by The Rising

Review

If you recall, like many of us, The Rising entered 2020 with high hopes & plans.
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"I Want You" by The Rising

Review

I am pleased to report that despite all the obstacles being placed in their way since their decision to launch a single a month in 2020, The Rising ...
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"Shadows on the Wall" by The Rising

Review

Reviewing obviously excellent artists is always a pleasure, but there is an extra frisson in writing about a release or performance which takes even ...
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"Just Another Name" by The Rising

Review

The latest single from Belfast founded & now Leamington based "fresh-faced Pop/Rock with Modern Country Stylings" duo The Rising is "Just Another ...
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"Christmas Brought You Here" by The Rising

Review

A couple of thoughts occurred to me as I started this review.
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"Endless Summer" by The Rising

Review

There are a handful of great locally based artists not so much emerging (how can they be just "emerging" when they have spent time honing their ...
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"Moving On" by The Rising

Review

As promised in my review of their performance at Sunday's BBC Introducing Coventry & Warwickshire showcase, what follows is my review of the ...
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