It’s been 15 years since Ike Reilly released his masterful debut Salesmen And Racists and despite not reaching a mainstream audience he’s been puttin out consistently great records ever since. Born On Fire is Reilly’s 7th record, and his first being co-released by Tom Morello’s Firebrand Records (also being released by Rock Ridge Music). If you’re familiar with Reilly you won’t find any shocking developments here, just 13 well-written tunes about love and loss, hard drinking nights, and the hope that tomorrow brings another day.
On the lead track, from which the title is taken, Reilly seems to be giving advice to his child about living a life of passion and conviction. He sings “I can’t leave you no money,I can’t leave you no land, I can’t leave you no faith-I lost what little I had. But I can leave you this truth, hold on to hope and desire. And take your flames to the streets cuz you were born on fire.” After that last line the song turns into a big sing-a-long, turning it into maybe the most optimistic I’ve ever heard Reilly.
“Do The Death Slide!” opens with a DJ introducing the song. Reilly drops his voice to sound like Tom Waits for the spot and then returns later for a little breakdown. The track features some great guitar and harmonica work. It’s a juke joint blues jam made to get you on your feet and the energy is palpable.
That energy is a big part of what makes Reilly’s music so great. Even in the most folkie tunes, there’s a lively aura about it that seeps into your brain. He doesn’t write catchy hooks that get stuck in your head, instead writing meaningful and honest stories that get stuck in your head and heart where music really lives.
There’s a lot of great stuff to be found in Born On Fire. Reilly seems to have a bottomless well of experience from which to draw material. A lot of that stems from his life in Libertyville, Illinois so I’m glad he’s teamed up with fellow Libertyvillian Tom Morello for this album. Morello features on guitar for the closing track “Paradise Lane.” It’s a song that would be perfectly fine on its own, but with Morello’s famous style added in, it becomes a brilliant high note to close out the collection.
Born On Fire will be released June 16th with a release show scheduled at Mickey Finn’s in Libertyville a couple weeks later on the 29th. You can pre-order the album through iTunes for $10.99