By now, events have rather overtaken this record. Pretty much as soon as it was announced that Inglorious had completed album number three, then it was announced that three of them had done one. But not singer Nathan James.
This bit is crucial, because James is a quite marvellous vocalist and a brilliant frontman. And, well, he had a rant before Christmas. What he said is now in the public domain – and I won’t mention it here given his emotional apology and the clear angst it has caused him – but it does mean that reviewing “Ride To Nowhere” is a strange thing to do, because of the group that made it only James and drummer Phil Beaver remain.
Above all, this is a real pity, both for James and the estranged band, but also for us. Because it is a superb record and one which sees the band – who I have long supported on these pages and been a huge fan of – taking things into different areas altogether.
There is a darker thread running throughout these 11 songs, as new guitarist Drew Lowe (an original member, and now gone again) added a different dynamic. It’s not that things have been ripped up and started again – indeed opener “Where Are You Now?” ushers itself in on the back of a riff that recalls Thunder, but there’s some astute keyboard work here too, together with a bass pulse.
“Freak Show” is a more slamming rocker, and the lead work here is bang on point, but there is an anger that you haven’t seen before, as if James was keen to reveal more of himself in the lyrics.
The hooks, though, are still arena ready, and “Never Alone” is a blues infused slice of class that James stretches his vocals all over in a manner that suggests he wishes it was 1989 and you could get Gold Records for this stuff.
For all that you suspect all James really wanted was to be the new David Coverdale (he’d be ace at it too) there is a proper latter day Whitesnake thing going on throughout the soaring “Tomorrow”, “Queen” on the other hand is a classic rocker with a swagger. Both of these two, in truth, could have been on either of their albums so far and not been out of place.
That is not the case with “Liar”, which seethes, and broods, and you wonder who it’s directed at (particularly in the context of what has gone on since). And it is not the case on “Time To Go”, either, which in truth has a funkiness that you might more readily associate with Dan Reed Network. Either way, it Is a cracker.
In common with all their other songs, there is barely a duff moment here, and as ever with Kevin Shirley at the helm the record sounds magnificent. Never better, though, than on the soulful “I Don’t Know You” which is the very definition of “soaring” and my goodness, if James enjoyed himself here.
“While She Sleeps” is a sassy, sleazier thing, but it does things in its own way, building slowly and deliberately, and the title track is perhaps the best example of this brave new world. From the opening that actually sounds like one of those modern prog bands, to the interesting melody of the lyrics to the structure of the track itself.
Perhaps prophetically, the thing ends with “Glory Days” a gorgeous acoustic ballad which sees James basically solo. It is mighty fine too. Everything Inglorious do always is.
“Ride To Nowhere” is the work of one of the best hard rock bands anywhere. I’d normally and with some glib statement like “it should take them everywhere.” The truth is, though, no one knows quite where they are going right now. What I can say for sure is this: whether the end of the beginning or heralding a new chapter, “Ride To Nowhere” is glorious. And, that for now, will have to do.