With this new record there is an instantly recognizable maturation in his sound. Where his first album was bursting with energy, good vibes, and optimism this album is represented through self reflection and meditation on things old and new. Though his optimism is still very present the good natured joy that I felt from the first record is scarce. Initially I was a bit thrown by the somber approach here as it is the polar opposite of his first album. With LoveBlood he was infectious, fast, clever, and quirky, making for an instant obsession. This album is not that. Rarely touching on the vibes present during the first go round, it seems he’s traded in his fun loving pop rock sensibilities for a more alt rock approach, one constructed around slow builds, heavy guitars, and calm introspections. To be honest my original feeling was disappointment. Absent are tracks like “Mississippi Isabel”, “Lady Percy”, or my personal favorite “Ivory Road” (the closest thing we get to that here is “New Orleans” but even that’s a stretch). I wanted this new album to bring the same light to my life as LoveBlood had done almost four years prior. It was only when I got the idea to listen to both albums back to back that I began to appreciate Gamble For A Rose. The two records compliment each other quite well. While the first is almost entirely made up of highs, it prepares you for the sedated sounds he leads with here. Lyrically and musically there is definite growth, which is good, but there was a definite step back in originality. While songs like “Choke” and “Carry Me Away” are poetic, there is something missing. Now, there are some definite standouts, songs like “St. Peter’s Gate”, which starts softly and drops into a heavy riff only to fade it out and finish us off with a lush string arrangement are among the album's best. The opener “Loose Change For A Boatman”, and closer “Coco Chitty” are also spectacular but it’s the hard rocking finish of “Tomorrow’s Fool” that has grabbed me the hardest thus far. The album is good, not great, but lucky for us he has plenty of time to impress us because this guy will be around for quite awhile.
In short, I have two requests considering the third album. First, that it we don’t have to wait another four years for it (but if it takes that long then so be it, you can’t rush inspiration!), and second, that our King learns how to combine his first two albums and create the perfect balance and further hone his unique talents.