BILL LEVERTY (Firehouse) – Divided We Fall (2020)
Fans of melodic rock just closed their eyes and clenched their fists while exhaling a celebratory “Yessss!!” That’s right, Firehouse’s guitar player BILL LEVERTY is releasing a new album titled “Divided We Fall“.
Leverty is an extremely underrated guitarist, but even more so, he’s one of the most underrated songwriters in the rock world. He’s proven his worth many times over in the melodic rock realm of Firehouse, but his songwriting excellence shines just as bright with this diverse potpourri of musical fragrances.
“Divided We Fall” is a record that pokes the bear. It doesn’t nestle itself in a comfy corner of predictability. You can tell that Leverty is going into different territory with both confidence and comfort. Whether it’s blues rock, classic rock, or power ballads, he has a staggering propensity for each of them.
Leverty does a great job of keeping the vocals simple and straight forward. He knows his limitations and makes the very best of his capabilities. I hear some Ian Astbury qualities on “You’re A Natural,” I get a bluesy Billy Gibbons feel from “Ace Bandage,” and I even hear a little tinge of Everlast on “The Bloom Is Off The Rose.”
There are some great harmony runs here as well. Songs like “Love Is Like A Song” and the title track have vocal arrangements that really shine. Leverty’s relaxed but clear and enunciated tone is exactly what these songs call for, and he delivers.
One of the first things I noticed after I started spinning ‘Divided We Fall’ is that each track has incredible bass lines and licks. Keith Horne is an essential ingredient to this tasty meal. The way his bass drives each of these songs is tremendous, but the subtle trills and bends he adds to so many already great phrasings are what makes these songs really something special. His insane licks never detract from the songs, but rather make them more interesting and multi-dimensional.
Horne’s playing is the perfect compliment to Leverty’s perfectly placed guitar parts.
Picture all that chemistry with Firehouse drummer Michael Foster holding it all down. It’s a beautiful thing. One of the main differences between this material and the Firehouse songs is that they do more exploring on a musicianship level. Firehouse songs are more streamlined and come across as one tightly focused effort with a well-defined target.
These songs have more of a jam feel running underneath them, with a blueprint that leaves room for a playground on the build site. It’s in these musical playgrounds that we get treated to the volleys between Horne and Leverty.
And let me just say this – I appreciate the songs that dabble in the outlaw country creek and aren’t unnecessarily soaked with cliché vocal twang. “The Heart Heals The Soul” has more of a sly “Ghost Riders In The Sky” vibe, but “My Right Mind” and especially “For Better Or Forget It” could easily fall into the trappings of “faux Country” fodder, but they don’t.
Those songs fit this album nicely and stick to the manicured blueprint that the rest of the album is built upon.
It’s funny, Leverty’s guitar skills are so “assumed” that I didn’t even talk much about them. If you know anything about this guy’s history, you should know that guitar excellence is a “given.” His expertise and his finely flavored guitar work are all over this record.
Again, it’s really cool to hear the guitar working in a looser jam atmosphere. We get a lot of stylings from Leverty’s skillset that we may not touch upon in the Firehouse format.
With this record, I feel like I get the best of both worlds from Bill Leverty. This material coupled with the classic Firehouse catalog gives fans just about everything they could possibly want.
Pull up a chair and let your ears feast on a thick, fat slice of pure American rock and roll.
01 – You’re a Natural
02 – Strong
03 – The Bloom Is off the Rose
04 – Divided We Fall
05 – Memorable
06 – Love Is Like a Song
07 – The Heart Heals the Soul
08 – My Right Mind
09 – Ace Bandage
10 – For Better or Forget It
Bill Leverty – vocals, guitars, keyboards
Keith Horne – bass
Michael Foster (Firehouse) – drums