For any self-respecting rocker, “Life Is Great”, the new single by the duo Scobie Ryder (ex-Hellfire Club frontman and Gold Awarded songwriter/producer), and Martin Hanisch (a top German session guitarist/writer and producer), better known as itso, is a treat. Part of the interest for me, of listening to a new song, is dissecting the music to reach its core; each chord progression is a clue, each lyric and vocal hook is a key to arriving at the authenticity of the record.
One song to the next, itso often recalls bits and pieces of legendary classic and alternative rock bands that we all listened to in awe, but there’s never a moment where the line between influence and imitation is crossed. itso follow in the footsteps of their peers not by shamelessly cloning their sounds, but by folding those sounds into the duo’s own personal aesthetic.
The mid-tempo anthem, “Life Is Great”, is no different. Traces of the greatness of Journey, Mr.Mister, Aerosmith, Def Leppard, and the Scorpions immediately come to mind. This is such a specific work, a work so intrinsically tied to 80s classic rock touchstones, but it totally avoids plagiarism of its source.
It helps, of course that itso are such diligent and deep-thinking songwriters. They strike snarling power chords, muscular rhythms, and superbly melodic choruses. Fittingly, it’s all transportational.
“Life Is Great” is built around a lush and jangling tone, while still leaving plenty of space for Scobie Ryder’s crystalline vocals, which feature a hint of gravelly fragility, as he shapes the end of each line with a subtle vibrato. The basslines draws the powerful guitars towards the insistent drumbeat reaching explosive apexes. This single clearly demonstrate that itso are more concerned with delivering quality sonic-art than merely shifting units.
Martin Hanisch weaves a fiery guitar solo into the mix, adding an extra edge to an already compelling track. “Life Is Great” unfurls the duo’s wings again, as they soar into the wild and wondrous. It leans heavily on the band’s indisputable love of guitars.
An instrument that is almost always driving the momentum of their arrangements. This track allows itso to once again stretch their muscles and give the listener something serious to chew on, between searing rock guitars and soaring melodic vocals.
With the release of “Life Is Great”, itso deliver yet another retro-infused song that still manages to never sound derivative, and clearly shows a project that is continuously growing and forging its own creative path.
Even though they’re referencing sounds that are long gone from the world of popular music culture, itso are doing so in a self-aware manner. They’re on a mission to empower a genre currently depleted of its essential resources.
“Life Is Great” not only fits perfectly into the itso catalogue, but is another fundamental step towards the re-empowerment of rock n’ roll. The track drops officially on the 1st of February 2022.