Written by Charles Hatton, posted by blog admin
Thnx For The Ride, Rhett Repko’s second studio release of 2017, begins with its title song and there’s a clear sea change from the more solidly singer./songwriter musings of 2017’s earlier EP release About Last Night. He’s working in a four piece format for this largely pop rock release, but his model of pop rock carries a bigger bite than you might assume from such a seemingly mainstream performer. “Thnx for the Ride” hosts some surprising musical shifts, especially in its second half, but the number never loses its way. “Please Don’t Laugh” succeeds for many reasons, but lead guitarist Stefan Heuer turns in another great guitar solo in a series of such moments. His consideration for melody and the next note is coherent, but sounds spontaneous throughout. Tom Bryant’s drums are another factor in the song’s success and he deftly manipulates the song’s tempo without ever missing a stroke.
I am particularly fond of the EP’s third tune “It Ain’t Coming From You”. It’s the apotheosis of sorts for how Repko marries winning pop melodies with a rock backing and Repko snaps off its lyrical content without ever sacrificing phrasing in favor of power alone. Heuer, in turn, contributes arguably his best lead guitar of the EP. “Maybe I’m Weak” is another rock tune, but Repko brings acoustic guitar into the picture and it enhances already dramatic electric riffing and lead work. It’s another example of Repko’s command over traditional dynamics. “And I Told Her So” sparks to life with a lively bass introduction and the rest of the band soon fall in behind Dan Gallagher’s playing with a warm wallop. It’s another of the EP’s greatest tracks and has some of the same emotional impact made by the earlier “It Ain’t Coming From You”.
“Learn Your Name” and “Make Me Right” ratchet up the emotional intensity rather than lowering its pitch. This one-two musical hook concluding Thnx For The Ride has an impassioned tenor dwarfing the earlier songs and the vocals answer in kind with a white-knuckled, raw tour de force performance distinguished, as well, by its intimacy. They are slightly chaotic tunes, or may seem that way to some, but they reveal how Repko has a clear design for ending Thnx For The Ride. It involves leaving all of his musical and songwriting cards on the table and, indeed, he does while never sounding exhausted or succumbing to self indulgence. Devoted listeners never needed any convincing the rock music isn’t dead for modern audiences and performers, but those who believe rock can’t strike a chord in listener’s bodies and hearts are discredited by Thnx For The Ride. This vital studio recording opens the door to an ever brighter future for Rhett Repko.