“Rise Up” really knocked me for six the first time I heard it. It was like a hurricane rushing through me as it awakened all kinds of emotions I never thought I could feel. Whether you are a veteran Cliff fan or you’ve never bought a Cliff album before, I really strongly recommend this if you’re looking for something soulful, emotional, inspirational or something that can lift you up when you’ve been dragged through the mire. As Cliff was. Some critics say only the dynamic title track references Cliff’s ordeal, but for me the latter is steeped in every note, like a ghost. Which is not to say it’s a miserable album…it isn’t. It’s not about crumpling up and dying, it’s about rising from your ashes like a phoenix, about being “Reborn”. It’s about longing for your dream and never giving up thereon, it’s about renewal and recovery. And it’s all stunning, there is not a bad track or filler on this.
His voice…close your eyes and let it flow…is impeccable…78 he might be, but his vocals are smooth, unhindered and caressing, and wraps around the lyric like swathes of silk. The intimacy and finer shades of feeling in his voice leave most of today’s younger singers far behind. Hear it!
There really aren’t standouts…each song stands alone and is beautiful in a different way, but the album is a blend of upbeat soul and emotionally charged ballads, so if you like Adele, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Paloma Faith, then try this! “Dancing into Nightfall” and “That’s What The Night Is For” are very danceable, “Everyone’s Someone” is uplifting, and “Wide, Deep and High” is spiritual. In the way all the songs are, and when love is mentioned, it feels like Cliff is referencing a deeper love than between two lovers, an everlasting, unbreakable love – the love God has for us- although no way do you have to hold religious faith to be moved by this album. The songs are all about love. But the love isn’t a passing fancy, a fleeting attraction; ‘I’m crazy for your body’-thing. This is I love you with “Everything That I Am”. If I had any criticism of this album it would only be that it wreaks havoc with my emotions. But that’s good. This album will haunt you, will stay with you. The deeper you listen, the more you’ll get out of it. Buy it and love it forever.