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Blues-based rock from England has been a reliable export for over fifty years now, and The Riven’s debut EP aims to make another worthy addition to that lineage. Granted, bands bypassing the Seventies to reap influence from the Sixties aren’t exactly rare right now, but Blackbird showcases more raw talent in five songs than many of The Riven’s peers can cobble together in a career. On top of that, the band recognizes and understands the key to what made their forefathers successful: they were heavy, sure, but they were also pop bands. Deep Purple, Jefferson Airplane and Grand Funk wrote songs that both inspired countless future metalheads and sold a million copies. The music industry (and its consumers) might not put up those kinds of numbers any more, but The Riven are already versed in that classic dynamic, which still produces great tunes.

“Ain’t No Doctor” sets the tone immediately, with guitarist Arnau Diaz’s Marshall crunch and singer Charlotta Ekebergh’s soaring, powerful voice. As talented as the band is, Ekebergh truly takes the band to another level. Recalling Elin Larsson (Blues Pills), Bonnie Raitt and Grace Slick, she skips the lilting, ‘witchy’ vocal approach favored by some of her rock contemporaries and goes straight for the soulful, badass sweet spot. The song’s clearly defined verse-chorus-verse structure gives each band member a platform to show their chops, complemented by a bright, punchy production well suited to their style.

Each song has a personality and panache that sets it apart, while still maintaining The Riven’s overall sound. “Tower” brings the boogie and some classic rock soloing; “Blackbird” is a big, hook-heavy ballad that would have easily been on AOR commercial radio rotation thirty years ago; “Killer On The Loose” is all riffs and pedal-to-the-metal energy; and “One Last Time” concludes with Ekebergh going for broke with some big vocal hooks with the rest of the band getting some extended jamming in as well.

Some bands falter on their first time out, others blow it all and never recover. The Riven have made a compelling statement with Blackbird, and there’s no reason for them to be any less than the top of the heap in short order.

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Blackbird will be self-released this Friday, April 14. Order it here. Follow the Riven on Facebook.

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