Ricky Warwick’s six previous solo albums have ranged from acoustic Americana to full-on rock (plus a Britney Spears cover) underlining what a complex soul Warwick is.
When Life Was Hard And Fast mirrors that complexity. Mainly it’s a big rock record, made with former Buckcherry men Keith Nelson (as guitarist, co-writer and producer) and Xavier Muriel (drums), alongside Black Star Riders bassist Robbie Crane.
Joe Elliott sings backing vocals on the title track, Luke Morley plays guitar on another, Andy Taylor does likewise on a third… But then there are real contrasts such as Clown Of Misery (a lo-fi demo) or Time Don’t Seem To Matter, written for, and featuring, his youngest daughter Pepper.
By turns the album is fast and punky – as on the Mink DeVille cover Gunslinger or Warwick’s own compositions Never Corner A Rat and You’re My Rock ’N Roll – or delivering moments of Lizzy-esque majesty in Fighting Heart and Still Alive, and the Springsteen-lite I Don’t Feel At Home, featuring Dizzy Reed on keyboards.
If the songs weren’t good, such a panorama wouldn’t hold together. But they are, and it does.