The four track EP III represents Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based rock band Rugby Road’s years of performing together. III was released in December, 2016 and it’s the three-piece veteran band’s third release since their inception in the year 1990.
The album begins with “Back to You” and it emits an upbeat and uplifting sound that appropriately welcomes new listeners into the world of Rugby Road. I especially like how the drums, the piano, and the guitars work together at the introduction to create that sort of vibe. The hybrid rock/soul track also features the Halloway Sisters Gospel Singers for the backing vocals who add a lot of extra energy to the song and they don’t sound out of place at all. Like the other songs in this album, “Back to You” features jam-band elements with melodic guitar solos over extensive instrumental breaks to keep the song moving along and allowing audiences to move their bodies and jam along with the band.
“Nobody (Needs to Know),” the album’s second track, takes a more chilled-out approach with the sound, this time incorporating funk elements. This song is just as easy to feel the beat with and audiences should be able to easily appreciate the cool vibe Rugby Road has to offer with this five minute track. Even with the temperature dialed back, the vocalist is able to deliver a powerful and emotional vocal performance, particularly at the chorus. The guitarist also delivers yet another solid performance, as the melody for the solos are dreamy enough to take listeners away when the vocalist isn’t singing. The rhythmic drums and the smooth keyboard during the instrumental breaks complete the laid-back atmosphere of the song, making “Nobody (Needs to Know)” an overall pleasurable listening experience.
Although the third track, “Spoken For,” is the slowest track on the EP, it’s the shortest track which clocks out at just 4:43. It still feels like a long track, as the band is able to offer more for listeners to get lost in. It’s especially difficult to bring up energy levels for a slow song but Rugby Road nicely achieves it with an actively anthemic chorus. The album ends with “Give it Away,” an up-beat song with the tempo to add life to sunny afternoon drives or cool evening dinners. The song shines with its mostly simple arrangement, while ending with a long and melodic guitar solo. “Give it Away” closes the EP out with a great impression of what the band can pretty much offer.
Kenny Kearns, Derek Smith, and Rich Pruett have logged many years performing together as Rugby Road, and their latest four-track EP III wonderfully proves what they can do as a single unit. A tighter production and mixing would have allowed this album to shine brighter over other rock records out there. With that aside, III has put Rugby Road’s charming style on full display and there’s so much to appreciate with what the band has shown with their album.
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