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EP Review: The Riven – Blackbird

Hailing from London isn’t enough to stop The Riven from embracing the bluesy, southern-US influenced hard rock style that they’ve chosen to adopt. They’ve chosen wisely, too; their frontwoman’s potent voice complements the stoner rock guitar licks and strong-but-relaxed drumming perfectly. Blackbird is fuzzy, funky, and would sound straight out of the seventies if it weren’t for the modern production.

There isn’t a weak track among the five cuts chosen for the EP, but even still, certain tracks suffer from an awkward lyrical layout. Simply put, the words don’t match up with the music too well. It’s far from an extreme problem, though; we aren’t talking about a middle schooler’s hip hop mixtape here. The imperfect lyrical fit is at it’s most noticeable on the opening track, “Ain’t No Doctor,” but despite feeling a little clunky, it’s of little consequence. The vocalist has a very impressive range, and she exhibits an equally impressive control over it. She’s able to slide her voice along where she needs to, and ultimately hold the song together. The guitar is top notch, albeit generic. It does what it needs to do for The Riven to capture the classic rock sound that they’re going for, and doesn’t do much else. Nor does it need to, to be fair. The tracks are all varying degrees of catchy, but the riffs themselves aren’t, if that makes sense. The vocals are great but even then it’s nothing new; the strength of Blackbird lies in the culmination of the band, not in any individual strength.

The Riven’s first EP (as far as I can tell, at least) is a strong introduction to the world of music: it’s laid back, radio friendly, and drenched in classic rock influences. The song structures are formulaic and predictable, but that only serves to make the music more traditionally catchy. Black birds are usually a bad omen, but in this case, Blackbird is just the title of The Riven’s EP. I don’t know where I was going with that. It’s good, is what I was trying to say. Blackbird is a solid listen; nothing too special, but a fun listen nevertheless.

Blackbird is now available via The Riven’s Bandcamp page.

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