Waite's anticipated new release follows 2007's Downtown…Journey of Heart and shows a new and fresh side of the British singer/songwriter's creative output. Part of the album was recorded in Nashville. The record wrapped with a spirited studio session in Los Angeles with the members of his touring band.
Waite says of Rough & Tumble: “As much as I feel the release of the live album, In Real Time, last May was a defining moment and as much as I have enjoyed playing those songs, I consider this album a new beginning. I approached this project with an entirely different ambition musically than I've had in the past. It's the first record I've made that I think is made up of singles. All 12 tracks are contenders. They're all alive in their own way. I'm not really sure what the energy is behind the songs, but there is a real kind of velocity in the album where we just picked up speed and kept going. We just wanted to play and win.”
A good portion of Rough & Tumble was written and produced in a sweet pocket of creativity enjoyed over the past year and a half with Matchbox Twenty lead guitarist/songwriter Kyle Cook, who Waite met through a mutual friend. “It's pretty much extraordinary,” Waite says about the material he created for the new album. “It's not like what people would expect from me. It's a step to the left. There's a rock imprint on the music and a melodic presence, but it's just shifted gears. It's an extreme record. It has an identity and a philosophy of its own, which is really fresh for me.”
The Waite/Cook collaboration has proved to be nothing short of phenomenal, as evidenced by songs like “Evil” (a thumping rocker-meets-dance-club tour de force), “Better Off Gone” (a hook-laced better-off-on-the-open-road anthem), the deep groove-laden “Love's Goin' Out of Style” and the soaring magic ballad “If You Ever Get Lonely”. “I'm not saying it's high art, but genuinely speaking, it's fantastic for me,” Waite says, reflecting on his new music. “I certainly am interested in spending the rest of my life doing something creative rather than just living in the past”.
On Rough & Tumble, Waite also managed to keep the rougher live rock edge that shines through on In Real Time alive and well. The no-holds-barred, riff-ready title track and the driving renditions of “Sweet Rhode Island Red” (a Tina Turner number) and “Mr. Wonderful” (a new take on a hidden gem originally included on his debut solo album, Ignition) are set to shake heads during the next tour. The melodies of the amazing “Shadows of Love” are yet another highlight of Waite's new superbly varied and interesting musical statement.