An album of conviction and sensitivity – well worth a listen.
‘Forevermore‘, Robert LaRoche’s new 10-song album, is largely autobiographical, with the themes of love, loss, redemption, and hope forming the essence. There is a comfortable quality to his vocals and a depth of experience to his lyrics. A very established sound, which is undoubtedly due to his extensive career, having performed professionally since age fifteen.
Much of LaRoche’s earlier career was with power pop band The Sighs. Signed to Virgin Records, The Sighs spent ten years on New England’s college/club circuit before releasing their debut CD in 1992. They then toured America extensively with the likes of the Spin Doctors before their second release in 1995, this time on an NYC indie label. After the band split in 1996, LaRoche moved on to become lead guitarist and co-writer with Texas singer Patricia Vonne. Wide-ranging European touring followed, building them a loyal fan base. Somewhat overlapping with his 2015 debut solo CD Patient Man, the following year, and twenty years since they split, LaRoche regrouped with The Sighs to record a highly acclaimed release. Three years later, LaRoche followed that with a six-song EP backed by several top musicians.
Fast-forward to 2023 and LaRoche is again backed by experienced, like-minded musicians, including two from The Sighs and his longtime friend and Oscar-winning songwriter and producer John DeNicola.
LaRoche says he is a “firm believer in less is more,” and this is borne out with ‘Forevermore‘ and its collection of relatively short songs. However, even with the album at only twenty-eight minutes, it is packed, not least with great intros and outros. The opening song and first single from the album ‘Steal Your Heart‘ is an immediate example. The intro is short but bright. The song has an exciting melody and great vocals, and the neat electric guitar break in the middle is one of several moving guitar pieces throughout the album.
‘Burn That Kingdom Down‘ has a particularly expressive solo electric guitar outro. Overall, the song has a full sound. However, it perhaps gets a bit busy toward the end with some unnecessary effects that detract from an otherwise organic feel. ‘Home Again‘ continues with an uncluttered sound showcasing LaRoche’s sensational vocals and harmonies.
The title track is enchanting but is one that feels particularly short. It could have done with an extra verse to perpetuate the gloriously atmospheric sound. Two minutes and 30 seconds is definitely not enough for this one. ‘She Knows‘, on the other hand, whilst it has a nostalgic Joe Jackson feel, tends to drag a bit. ‘Safer Inside‘ explores self-protection with a jangly, upbeat sound that also seems to end too soon & sudden. However, acoustic-driven ‘Temporary Virtue‘ makes up for anything others may lack. LaRoche’s vocal is just beautiful, and the strings complement magnificently.
‘Hard Rain‘ has a hugely captivating, if brief, intro. Bass-driven, this song has a dramatic ambience and a big sound. This is followed by the full-on ‘Traitorous Heart‘, which fully exhibits the tightness of the musicians and one in which LaRoche’s vocal and songwriting excel. ‘End of Time’ closes the album with a vast yet straightforward sound. Classic-sounding vocals, harmonies and instrumentation.
For the most part, the songs leave nowhere to hide. Each instrument is played with conviction and sensitivity. The melodies are engaging, have a depth of feeling and are atmospheric. Comparisons can sometimes be helpful to give a steer, but in this case, they are pretty tricky. He has a classic sound, which perhaps leans a little toward the 50s, yet is a subtle combination of, at times, Oasis, The Beach Boys and Justin Currie. Unsurprisingly, LaRoche sounds like he has always been around with his worn-in vocal, making the listener comfortable and secure.