When a popular member of a high-profile band steps out on his or her own to create and release a solo project, listeners tend to have an expectation that that solo project will land in a similar musical ballpark as the main band.
Not so with Rifleman.
The creative force behind this project is Richie ‘dw’ Norton, the man most directly responsible for both phases of the career of beloved Aussie heavy band Superheist, as well as being the co-founding member of blistering metal act Walk the Earth. Norton is also an institution in the Australian music scene overall, as a dual ARIA nominated music producer, studio engineer and one-time record label owner. His 25-plus year legacy, and impact on Australian music, is truly illustrious.
Known for his work with monstrous heavy bands, Norton decided not to play it safe with Rifleman, taking a large step out into left field for his first solo opus Silver and Gold. Fans of his previous works are likely to be surprised with what he has come up with, however pleasantly.
Rifleman is a true solo effort, Norton playing guitar, bass, keyboards and piano on record, and, for the first time ever, taking up lead vocal duties. He also wrote all the tunes and produced the album himself.
And what he has come up with is both refreshing and eye-opening. Gone are the crunching riffs, pounding grooves and dark tones, replaced by more straight-ahead rock tracks, Norton’s raspy but ear-pleasing vocals and a more accessible aesthetic. Silver and Gold is no one-dimensional pop-rock record however, the album is a 16 track journey across highly varied soundscapes, sometimes uplifting, sometimes melancholy, sometimes atmospheric, and always memorable.
No musician is an island of course, and Norton has put a gun team around himself for the album’s release and subsequent touring endeavours, assembling a highly skilful and experienced touring band, and recruiting industry maestros for management, booking and publicity.
dw Norton’s Rifleman is set to hit the Australian music scene with all guns blazing.