Skylar Rogers – Firebreather | Album Review

Skylar Rogers – Firebreather

Skylar Rogers Music 2020

10 songs, 39 minutes

Being raised in a tough Chicago neighborhood, and experiencing difficult times which included abusive relationships, homelessness and the stillbirth of her child provided Skylar Rogers with extensive material for heartfelt songwriting. This is evident in the song inspired by her strained relationship with the father she never knew growing up, who then also blocked her efforts to initiate a relationship as an adult. “Like Father Like Daughter” speaks to how “the student’s become the teacher, now the whole world will see.  Like father like daughter…remember what I taught you. Well, you taught me one thing…how to turn around and walk away. You say that you’re trying to right the wrong, but I can see that nothing’s changed. And now I see that thinking about you don’t bring me nothing but pain.”

“Like Father Like Daughter” led to Rogers placing as a semi-finalist in the International Songwriting Competition. But it is just one of ten skillfully written songs on her latest album Firebreather.  “Drowning” is equally powerfully written, starting with a beautiful piano intro (by Pete Zimmer), and building to an emotional climax, noting “I’m drowning, baby…Your memory is a past that haunts me.  I can’t find my peace of mind nowhere. I never got to say goodbye. I’m trapped in a prison…in a memory of something that was never meant to be.”

There are certainly more upbeat songs on this album, including the sassy “Hard-Headed Woman,” which begins with Rogers sounding proud of her hard-headedness, but then lamenting that “this hard-headed woman is going to be sorry someday.” And “Back to Memphis” which offers hope for a new life in a new location. However, the best tracks seem to be the slower ones, often processing grief and pain. “Thankful” is a beautiful song encouraging some to change their ways and develop an attitude of gratitude. “You take your life for granted—just passing through…it’s all about you. It’s all about your stuff and it’s never enough…be thankful.”

Rogers has powerful vocals with a wide range and beautiful tone, and her singing is clearly influenced by Tina Turner, Etta James and Koko Taylor. She also has a talented band supporting her. Besides Zimmer on piano, Jerry Ewing plays bass, “Disco Fuzz” Bradley Arl (who co-wrote three of the songs) plays drums, and Steven J. Hill and Marty Gibson both play guitar. There is truly not a bad track on this album. Give Firebreather a try, and you will soon see why Annika Chambers has been quoted as admiring Rogers’ “energy and pizzazz and her raw honesty to every performance”, and why Ms. Zeno “The Mojo Queen” has stated about Rogers, “give her a microphone, and in a minute she will win your heart.”

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