Had I got it in time, this album could have made the Top Five of 2016 list.
Rik Emmett had a long productive career as 1/3rd of Triumph, but he has rarely looked back. Post-Triumph he has released a steady stream of jazz, rock, blues and acoustic music, sometimes revisiting Triumph songs in re-arranged form. Finally the ice thawed and Triumph successfully conquered Sweden Rock. In 2016 Rik released RES 9, a new rock album with his new band RESolution 9.
RES 9 is in fact a time machine. Dial up track 1. You will be transported back to 1990 with the rock boogie of “Stand Still”. This is a spiritual sequel to “Drive Time” from Rik’s first solo album Absolutely. Then punch track 2. “Human Race” (not a Red Rider cover) could have been a single from 1986’s The Sport of Kings. With Alex Lifeson guesting on guitar, Rik and the band tapped into the hookiness of 80’s Triumph, but with a modern integrity. When you hit up track 3, you will find yourself in the future. Accompanied by fellow Canadian James LaBrie (Dream Theater), Rik turns in a modern rock anthem with “I Sing”. Big and uplifting choruses preceded by mellow verses are built for radio. LaBrie’s vocals are the perfect compliment. Without a shred of hyperbole, “I Sing” is absolutely one of the best songs Rik’s ever recorded.
The bluesy soul ballad “My Cathedral” gives Rik a chance to show off his impeccable chops. His tone — unbelievable! Moving on to “The Ghost of Shadow Town” effectively dials up 1976 in the time machine, with a dark heavy Zepp-ish blues. “When You Were My Baby” continues down smoove blues street, throwing in some jazz licks. “Sweet Tooth” is turn down a brightly lit side avenue, a sweet treat indeed.
A hard Triumph-like vibe permeates “Heads Up”, another fine hard rocker for the radio. “Rest of My Life” adds the jangle of acoustic guitars to the rock and roll mixture, creating another fine concoction just begging to be a hit. Things toughen up with the pure rock power of “End of the Line”, featuring the returns of LaBrie and Lifeson. The sheer star power of all these Canucks in one studio must have driven the temperatures well below freezing. Still the track smokes, and if you’ve ever wanted to hear Emmett and Lifeson go head to head, then wish no more.
But it is not the end of the line. Back to the future, we have a bonafide Triumph reunion featuring the full trio of Emmett, Gil Moore and Mike Levine. This long awaited reunion happens on the bonus track “Grand Parade”. The genuine surprise here is that it’s not a hard old time hard rocker, but a thoughtful and musically deep blues ballad. It strikes me as appropriate that this much anticipated track sounds nothing like old Triumph. That was, after all, a long time ago.
With RES 9, Rik has re-established his rock credentials. Whether he does another album like this is beside the point. RES 9 is the point; a damn fine album indeed.