October 6, 2023
Review: Thom Jennings
Thirty-four years since the release of Can’t Look Away, singer-songwriter and guitarist Trevor Rabin has delivered a proper follow-up. Rabin emerged on the music scene as the unintended savior of the progressive rock band Yes in 1983, after a stint with Rabbitt followed by a short solo career.
Rio, named after his granddaughter, is a pleasant surprise. Rabin released the all-instrumental Jacaranda in 2012, but the last album of original material to feature his vocals was Yes’ Talk in 1994.
The album launches with “Big Mistakes,” which has a riff reminiscent of Tom Petty’s “Jamming’ Me.” It’s the perfect opening song to hook the listener, much like “Owner of a Lonely Heart” did on Yes’ 90125.
From there, the tracks get even better. “Toxic” is a bluesy number with some pop and prog elements, where Rabin flexes his guitar chops. “Egoli” and “Thandi” sound like lost Yes tracks.
“Tumbleweed,” “These Tears,” and “Oklahoma” are beautiful tracks that are reminiscent of Rabin’s soundtrack work. “Paradise” is an upbeat track that is pure ear candy, and “Goodbye” is a country music-flavored gem.
Even though Rabin has not released a vocal album in decades, none of the material has suffered. His work on soundtracks has helped him create a fascinating musical landscape for his vocal work.
Fans of Rabin’s work with Yes will love this record. While it’s a shame he could not record with Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman, the album is filled with great songs and zero filler. Hopefully, it won’t be decades before the next vocal album, and it would be great to hear these songs on a solo tour.