Written by Jason Hillenburg, posted by blog admin
Rhett Repko’s recording output reaches a new peak with the release Thnx For The Ride. The seven song EP release opens with the deceptively ambitious title song. The song’s subject matter is common fodder for popular music, but Repko and his band move from acoustic flurries, a forceful rock stomp, and near reggae inflections with surprising seamlessness. There’s some interesting electronic laced textures near the song’s conclusion, in lieu of a traditional guitar solo, and the song succeeds thanks to how familiar, yet individual, it comes across. “Please Don’t Laugh” is an extraordinarily strong follow up foregoing the stylistic experimentation of the title song, retaining the same commitment to a strong vocal presentation, and comes barreling out of speakers like an emphatic roar. There’s an especially good guitar solo near the end from Stefan Hauer benefitting, just a little, from some post production gloss.
“It Ain’t Coming From You” begins with a nervy rave up, propelled by the two guitar attack of Repko and Hauer, and given added urgency thanks to the rhythm section of bassist Dan Gallagher and drummer Tom Bryant. The touch is lighter here than Repko serves up on the first two songs, but the third song nonetheless has tremendous energy. Repko continues maintaining his rock edge with the song “Maybe I’m Weak” and it’s hard, if not impossible, to ignore how well his plaintive emotional voice resonates with this singer/songwriter oriented songwriting. The powerful vulnerability behind these songs creates a nice contrast with the rock posture he takes on and the vocal harmonies are particularly effective with this tune. His love of toying with tempos returns with the song “And I Told Her So”, but the song also works as a lean, muscular rocker shorn of the raucousness we hear with earlier cuts.
“Learn Your Name” opens with a fleet footed bass line from Dan Gallagher segueing into a thrashing and churning guitar attack that never risks being too heavy handed and has a stylized gait throughout.. The same passion burning brightly in the earlier songs glows just as fiercely with this number and, increasingly, Thnx For The Ride sounds like a condensed, explosive statement of purpose rather than just some run of the mill rock release. The EP ends on a hard hitting and uptempo note with the track “Make Me Right” and the pop strengths and rock swagger Repko can summon finds ideal expression in the finale’s combustible attack. Rhett Repko proves himself a master of pouring old wine into new bottles, but the seven songs included with this EP proves he’s, likewise, a songwriter and performer with an intense personal stake in his art. Thnx For The Ride never strains credibility, feels immediate, and crackles with genuine inspiration.