That the legendary Emitt Rhodes can come back 40 years after abandoning the spotlight is simply an amazing triumph in itself. This was a man who’s short solo career would influence generations of artists in power pop. Emitt’s self-titled debut in 1971, gave him the moniker “one-man Beatles,” by writing, recording and producing the album alone in his home studio. After several failed attempts to return, an army of dedicated fan-musicians (Fernando Perdomo, Aimee Mann, Susanna Hoffs, Jon Brion, Nels Cline from Wilco, Roger Joseph Manning, Jr. and Jason Falkner of Jellyfish, Bleu, Probyn Gregory and Nelson Bragg from Brian Wilson’s band) came together as his band with producer Chris Price to help release Rainbow Ends.
Starting with “Dog On A Chain” the album tells the story of bitterness and hope. Rhodes ability to turn a phrase to a simple hook remains as strong as ever, as the chorus kicks in with full force and the beaten down protagonist emerges. All the players here insure that the instrumentation is just flawless. Equally impressive is the blues-pop number “If I Knew Then” with its strong bass lead and piano melody, but the sweet spot is the love ballad “Isn’t It So” a perfectly succinct melody that elevates the song above the norm. Unlike some songwriters, Rhodes doesn’t layer his compositions excessively, but strips them down to bare essentials. “This Wall Between Us” and “It’s All Behind Us Now” are soulful pleas with subtle harmonies and economical guitars backing his crisp vocal.
His balladry is closer to James Taylor than McCartney on this album, “Someone Else” is another gem that sticks with you and deserves multiple listens. In fact, nothing here falls flat and each song reflects Emitt’s struggle, like “I Can’t Tell My Heart” he intones “When you love someone so much it hurts you, you learn to love the pain…” The storyline tells of moving on after a painful divorce, with a sliver of hope on “Friday’s Love” and the inspirational title track. This album was certainly a grower with me, and while it lacks the punch of immediacy after the first few songs, it’s melodic narrative is very strong from beginning to end. Highly Recommended.
To learn more about Rhodes, check out his page in the Power Pop Hall of Fame, penned by producer Chris Price.
Initially this project was created with a Pledge Music campaign that is still very much active. If you’d like the extras that accompany this album, this is the only way to get them.