First Things First

Roadcase Royale

Something familiar, something new, a little rock and a little blues. If that seems like something you might hear with regard to a marriage, well, you’re not far off. First Things First is the debut studio album from Roadcase Royale featuring Heart’s Nancy Wilson and Prince’s Power Generation vocalist Liv Warfield. It is the soulful union of Wilson’s rock roots and Warfield’s powerful R&B background into a distinctly new, refreshing and powerful sound.

The “familiar” is found with covers of Heart’s “These Dreams” and “Even It Up.” Classic songs that are the same, yet a little different; they’ve been reinterpreted and given a little soul. They’re earthier, funkier and yet still recognizable. But what keeps you listening on is the new original material. Warfield’s powerful, soul-filled delivery of “Not Giving Up” and “Never Say Die” grab you, hold you down and compel you to listen on.

For all of the up-tempo tunes on the album, one somber song of remembrance stands out: “The Dragon.” Written by Wilson as a sobering tribute to the late Layne Staley of Alice Chains, the song is a retrospective tribute to someone who couldn’t conquer his demons (the dragon). The music is seamlessly executed and delivered with the harmonized vocals of Wilson and Warfield, backed by the rest of the members of the band — from Heart Dan Rothchild (bass), Chris Joyner (keys), Ben Smith (drums), plus Prince guitarist Ryan Waters.

The bar is set incredibly high for Wilson and Warfield. They have managed to reach it and raise that bar a little higher. Roadcase Royale has created a refreshingly new sound and it’s exciting. It’s familiar, but it’s different; the hallmark of every standout band that has ever existed. First Things First is a solid, rocking, soulful, well-arranged debut album that is a genuine treat to listen to and leaves you wanting more. This album is, indeed, the perfect union, and Roadcase Royale just invited you to the party.

~ Mimi Franco

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