The Rage to Survive is one of the most unapologetically exciting blues-rock albums in decades, every guitar performance geared for the live stages Britain is finally ready to embrace again. And yet it’s the sombre “Invisible Me” that proves the most revelatory,and offers Bryant’s humblest vocal on the record. There’s scarcely a guitar to be heard for the opening moment (brave too, following the thunderous “Trouble With Love), but rather pivots around the vocal, barren and ragged as it sounds. In keeping with the blues genre that makes up the album’s backdrop, there’s a comforting, despairing quality to the record that only helps to sell the emotion the guitars clearly search for. But before the project gets too ponderous, the drums kick in and “Rescue Me” plunges into a more polished groove that could easily sit on an album Sting produced during his tenure with The Police. And then there’s “Looking Good”, a tune that’s inexplicably bouncier to the Neil Innes favourite The Rutles played throughout their forty year career as a travelling act.
Acoustic ballad “Falling Tears’ ‘ furthers the gravitas, dialing the clock back to the days when campfires and broken hearts were the currency of love. There’s a loneliness to the piano heavy “Till The Bottle Runs Dry”, as a man despairs for the end of love in a world that would rather boogie heavier than the bouncy drums that lead them. Then there’s “Westport” (a reference to the Irish town?), culminating in a singer aching for the madness of love that has eluded him for much too long. Caught in a distinguished, even Dylan-like, vocal melody, Bryant offers a final vocal, closing the album on a shanty of sorrow, secrets and sidelines.
Recorded in an impressively thrifty period-four days, apparently-the album was done with as much faithfulness to the live stage as they could muster. Between them, the band rock into the album’s closing instrumental section, capturing an energy that seems primed for performance, and the guitar flares up into an almost Gilmour like fashion, closing the song on a coda that’s pleasantly reminiscent of “Comfortably Numb.”
Where Bryant will go from this project is anyone’s guess, but I would like to hear him tackle a live album. Bars are opening, tours are lengthening, and there’s a growing appetite for live rock, especially after two years of dormancy. A live album would be nice-and play that guitar extra loud!