By Conor Finlay
For more than 20 years, Vancouver based Rich Hope has been a faithful ambassador to a genre that sounds best when kept raw. A celebrated fixture in the live scene, I’m All Yours is his Hope’s first release since 2009’s Is Gonna Whip It On Ya, and the time between records allowed the songs ample time to gestate.
“We took our time with the recording, I wanted it to sound visceral,” Hope says of the evolution. He is joined by longtime members, bassist Erik Nielsen and drummer Adrian Mack, and new addition, Matt Kelly on keyboards. The band shared a collaborative spirit in the studio during late night sessions with producer Felix Fung, as several new song ideas were fleshed out on the fly and quickly captured.
“It was a more collaborative piece than I’ve ever done,” Hope says. “The other guys in the band definitely contributed to the songs and we wanted to write things when we were most excited about them, because that’s when they’re the most fun to play.”
That enthusiasm is evident throughout the album, with dynamic twists and turns that play out like an encyclopedic lesson plan in what made guitar driven music from past eras so exciting. Opener, “It Come Alive,” starts the album with blazing guitar and vocals that perfectly sets the stage for the kind of mood to follow. For the rest of the album, Hope and co. know their terrain well, playfully tearing up the floorboards of many iconic styles, delving into the sonic worlds of RnB, country, garage and all shades in between. The bluesy and dark “La Iguana” features a dusty guitar tone with bursts of horns, weaving a hypnotic groove for Hope to croon over. “Golden Clouds” pays a catchy homage to the original track by the Flamin’ Groovies with a healthy dose of twang. “Creepstone” marries a driving bass and drum beat with reverb soaked bursts of guitar and sultry vocals. A notable highlight and personal favourite for Hope is “Heartbreaker.”
“I sat on it and one day I thought I might give up on it, but I’m really happy with how it turned out,” he says. Featuring pedal steel guitar by Scott Smith and a long sustained outro jam that pulls all the right stops, “Heartbreaker” is a pitch-perfect ending to an album that stays in a solid gear from beginning to end, and a consistent showcase of Hope’s versatility and mastery of the genre. I’m All Yours is a not so gentle reminder that rock ‘n’ roll is alive and well.
Rich Hope performs on Dec. 15 at the Rickshaw Theatre as part of Keithsmas IX. I’m All Yours is available now at Red Cat Records and on all streaming platforms.