DC Rapier’s Feeling Fifteen Again
is a rocking fountain of youth
by Preston David Bailey – author
Rapier’s first solo effort – which shines with nostalgia, humor, and driving rock – proves that youth doesn’t have to be wasted on the young
J.K. Rowling once wrote that “Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young…” It’s true that old men like to talk about the past, and often young people like to roll their eyes because the stories usually don’t convey shared experience. But DC Rapier’s Feeling Fifteen Again shows that he’s not guilty of forgetting what it was like to be young. And he’s not just a baby boomer yearning in song for the good old days of Eisenhower’s America. Feeling Fifteen is a rocking fountain of youth that transcends genre to find its maker connecting genres and styles into what might be called a cross-generational concept album.
The album opens with the outspoken Bloodied but Unbowed, a black spiritual along the lines of When the Saints Go Marching In transformed into an anthem of perseverance. “Can I get an amen!?” Rapier hollers at the end. With the title track, If It Ain’t Broke, and Baby Come Back, Rapier belts out roaring rock that one might expect to hear on an early Bruce Springsteen album but with a lighter lyrical touch. With an insistent beat and an infectious chorus, Never Thought I Could Feel This Way shows Rapier is not afraid to walk the edge of seventies bombast one might associate with Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell. “Yesterday is dead and gone,” he ironically says – like someone who just lived through the sixties.
As a recording artist, Rapier is really more of a singer/songwriter like Springsteen, Tom Waits, or Warren Zevon than he is a blues, jazz, or R&B artist like Muddy Waters, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, or Otis Redding. But the influences of America’s musical roots are certainly here, and the album’s production led by the thoughtful Andrew Page doesn’t disappoint. On Small Town Boys – likely the most radio-friendly of all the tracks – Rapier uses a sophisticated big band sound to juxtapose the rather ordinary story it tells of weekend teenage rituals that still happen across the US to this day. The contrast of style and content is unique, however, because it gives us the true epic feeling of being young and cruising around a small town raising hell. The image is almost timeless. “I’ll never forget those Friday nights / Polish your Chevy ‘till it’s shiny bright / Pool gas money and drive the Square / Make believe we’re going somewhere.”
Older Than I Look (Younger Than I Feel) provides a butt-shaking humorous narrative that touches on current social mores about how men and women interact, as opposed to the not-too-distant past. Wildwood, the one real depressant on the album, sports the melancholic longing of Leonard Cohen before breaking into a guitar solo that could be from Pink Floyd’s classic era.
The doo-woppy ballad Best Laid Plans and the closing tracks Best Thing in My Life and Keep on Rollin’, summarize DC Rapier’s unique style and positive outlook. No, rock and roll will never die, as long as we keep moving forward and learning from life, he seems to say. Rapier certainly knows his roots and pays due respect with avoiding the pitfalls of dripping nostalgia and over-indulgence. The song-writing, lyrical and melodic flavor, the production, the arrangements, and the vocal style are what makes Feeling Fifteen Again a complete concept and a prodigiously new experience.
— Preston David Bailey