Rifleman is the ‘project’ name given to Superheist/Walk the Earth alumnus Richie ‘dw’ Norton’s debut solo effort, and if not all the tracks featured are indeed worthy of the precious metallic connotations of the title, there’s certainly an awful lot to like about the record.
In fact metal Silver & Gold is decidedly not. This is restrained, adult rock we’re dealing with; Norton’s guitars are always at the front of the mix, sure, but they never overwhelm, instead complementing and bolstering the man’s pleasantly world worn voice, creating a general wash of sound that is very comforting to the ears.
At sixteen tracks you might find Silver & Gold a lot to digest in one sitting, and indeed at times the album does run together into an amorphous radio rock mass, but, given a bit of time and concentration, there is much of worth to harvest here.
The obvious starting point for listeners of a certain age is Norton’s reading of the old INXS classic Don’t Change. Pleasingly our hero chooses not to put too much of a spin on the track – there’s no need – rather delivering a respectful but always energised version of the song, building up the intensity as the song progresses. It’s a fine effort. Of the original material, The Last Love Song is perhaps the most impressive, featuring a strong chorus (Norton’s vocals are the most pleasing surprise on the whole record, and he’s at his best here) and a decidedly eighties feel. Which of course is praise indeed round these parts…
Those Southern Lights is similarly striking, though very different sonically; Again centred on a strong vocal, it also sees Norton deploying that gorgeous Ibanez Destroyer that adorns the cover of the album in slightly more aggressive fashion, adding a bit of grit to the otherwise almost overwhelmingly smooth approach utilized. It’s anthemic, uplifting and energising and it’s another standout.
Plenty to enjoy, then – almost too much in fact – and if you like the sort of rock you can slip on in the wee small hours to get you through the night without unsettling the neighbours too much then Silver & Gold will be in your top five albums of the year, I guarantee.
Silver & Gold by Rifleman is out now on Dinner For Wolves.