Released by: RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment
Release Date: July 27th, 2018
Chris Daughtry – lead vocals, rhythm and lead guitar
Josh Steely – lead guitar, backing vocals
Josh Paul – bass guitar, backing vocals
Brian Craddock – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Elvio Fernandes – keyboards, guitar, backing vocals
Brandon Maclin – drums, percussion, backing vocals
1. Just Found Heaven
3. Deep End
4. As You Are
5. Death of Me
6. Bad Habits
7. Back in Time
9. Stuff of Legends
10. White Flag
Anyone expecting a return to Daughtry’s classic, gritty sound may be sorely disappointed, but listen to this new album with an open mind, and you may be pleasantly surprised. Upon the first listen to Daughtry’s fifth studio album, Cage to Rattle, it’s clear that it’s quite the departure from his previous work, but that does not mean this is a bad album. With amazing production values, and superb vocals, this album stands out as an evolution in this hard-working band’s sound. But is it a rock album?
After the lukewarm reception that Baptized received, you wouldn’t have expected Daughtry to continue with the pop-rock sound they cultivated over their later albums, but with Cage to Rattle that is exactly what they have done. Perhaps the tracks “Torches” and “Go Down”, which were specifically written for the 2016 compilation album It’s Not Over…The Hits So far, should have been a clue for where the band intended to go musically, with Daughtry quipping that they represented a “hybrid of where we’ve been and where we’re going”. It is always a difficult balancing act for maturing bands when it comes to meeting fan expectations, while trying to continue to develop their sound, and whether this will divide fans while attracting a completely new listener base remains to be seen.
Dominated by tracks in the vein of “What About Now” (Daughtry), “September” (Leave this Town), and “Waiting For Superman” (Baptized) from previous albums, the structure of the track-list plays like a subtle progression back towards the darker themes of the seminal album Daughtry, while staying true to the carefully cultivated sound expressed throughout Cage to Rattle. Opening track “Heaven”, sets a very commercial narrative for the album, and falls short of grabbing you on the first listen. Like tracks “Deep End”, and “White Flag”, there is a real Shinedownesque feel about these three songs, with the latter representing the only song that harkens back to the writing of his early work. “Backbone” has a modern delta-blues vibe to it as Daughtry weaves a life affirming tale about surviving in the harsh world we live in. “As You Are” and “Bad Habits” continue the commercial pop sensibilities of the album, making for very mainstream songs that wouldn’t sound out of place on a top 40 radio station. “Death of Me”, “Back in Time”, and “Gravity” round out the key anthemic ballads on the album, with “Back in Time” presenting a particularly catchy, foot-tapping rhythm, with rolling beats, and synths woven through, setting a discordant tone to the song that brings the whole thing together. The stand-out song on Cage to Rattle, is the penultimate track on the album, “Stuff of Legends”, which wouldn’t seem out of place on Extreme’s Pornograffitti or a Mark Ronson – Bruno Mars collaboration. This swaggering tune has a grungy funk-rock sound featuring distorted bass, a distinctive four-on-the-floor beat, a lush synth arrangement, catchy guitar riffs, and disco-like hooks. I would have liked there to have been a few more tracks like this, as it’s one of the few particularly up-tempo songs on the album – something that Cage to Rattle is sorely lacking.
There is no denying that the vocals are the main driver of this album, more than the lavish instrumentation that forms the backdrop of Cage to Rattle, which shows Daughtry’s maturity and development as a songwriter. The heavy orchestration offset by Daughtry’s stunning voice creates a soundscape that truly brings these songs to life, with elements reminiscent of radio-friendly AOR favourites like Foreigner and Journey. Overall this is a good effort by the North Carolina band, but it barely holds on to their grunge-rock roots.
Written by: Erik (De’Viking) De’Scathebury