CD Review: Rugby Road “III”

Rugby Road is a Modern Rock band from Philadelphia. Together, Kenny Kearns (vocals, keyboards, bass, guitar, etc.), Rich Pruett (drums, percussion and vocals) and Derek Smith ((aka “Smalls”) on guitars and vocals) create a group that is currently celebrating the fact that they have just passed the Quarter-Century mark as far as being a band is concerned. The trio lists bands like the Allman Brothers, Rusted Root, Phish as well as other artists like Peter Frampton as influences. As a result, the band’s musical quality includes styles like Rock, Jazz, Soul and even Funk. Together, Kearns, Pruett and Smith are celebrating 25 years of Rugby Road’s existence by releasing the band’s newest release called Rugby Road III.

The newest release from Rugby Road begins with the track “Back to You”. The track finds the band combining two different styles into one track. The underlying sound of the track contains a piano base like something from Billy Joel while the inclusion of a strong electric guitar that gives the song a completely different Rock and Roll feel that fits on top of the piano-based Pop. “Back to You” builds and builds throughout the song’s nearly six-minute play time. The electric guitar Rock and Roll and piano-based Pop combine to create one track that contains plenty of energy. Add in some Soul influence in the form of background singers that sound like a Gospel chorus near the end of the track and the song gets slightly overwhelming. But the music comes to an end before the track goes too far. “Back to You” kicks the new release from Rugby Road off with plenty of energy.

With the next track of “Nobody (Needs to Know),” Rugby Road combines plenty of Rock and Roll with a ton of Soul influence to create a track that feels like something that would have been right at home on Commercial Radio back in the mid to late eighties. As a matter of fact, the track’s sound brings to mind something from Steve Winwood as the song of “Nobody (Needs to Know)” could easily have fit right in on any of Winwood’s albums from that time period. “Nobody (Needs to Know),” the second track on the new release from Rugby Road, feels like a hit single.

For the third track on the Rugby Road III release, the band slows things down quite a bit. “Spoken For” finds the band blending together a generous amount of Jazz and Rock & Roll. The results are a song that feel like it could have come from Steve Winwood, Bruce Hornsby or maybe even Sting. The track contains plenty of Rock & Roll feel with enough Jazz influence to soften the energy of the music. The track is yet another moment on the latest release from Rugby Road that shows that the band can handle plenty of different styles of music at one time.

For the last track on their latest release, Rugby Road creates a track in “Give it Away” that is straight-out Rock and Roll. Like some of the previous tracks on the four-song EP, the band brings a style that borrows a lot from artists like Steve Winwood or Bruce Hornsby as the track features a lot of Rock & Roll that is reminiscent to their styles. With this track, however, the keyboards in the song also seem to bring to mind the sound and style of Manfred Mann; especially during the one solo in the song that focuses on the keyboard. After spending time focused on the keyboards, the guitar takes over as the focal point of the track. With this track, the band lets their improvising skills out as they take the song in a direction that is more “jam band” than it is straight Rock & Roll. “Give it Away” is one track that easily allows the talent of the trio of Kenny Kearns, Rich Pruett and Derek Smith to shine through. While the band of Rugby Road had not put out a new release in fifteen years, the trio seems to have kept their skills as musicians.

The four tracks that make up Rugby Road’s new EP called Rugby Road III are all solid songs. With only four songs on this release from 2016, fans of this band, new and old alike, were given just a hint of what the band had been like. The four tracks are a good indication of what the band is capable of if and when they decide to release something more.

To hear music from Rugby Road, click the link for the video to the song “Back to You“.

For more information, check out the band’s PR firm, The RMG Media Group.

Click on the album cover below to purchase a copy of the new album from Rugby Road:

Rugby Road cover