TRACK REVIEW: Fil Bo Riva - Time Is Your Gun



Fil Bo Riva


Time Is Your Gun





The track, Time Is Your Gun, is available via:




Berlin, Germany


6th July, 2018


WHEN looking at Fil Bo Riva


PHOTO CREDIT: Juliane Spaete

I wanted to look at a few different things. I will speak about solo artists who, although they work with other musicians, have a split between isolation and being buried in the world – how the solo male artist is making a comeback and we need to see those idols come through. I’ll also address those artists with a more romantic and cinematic mind; musicians who travel and spend time in different nations; revealing a bit more on the page and showing the listener where they came from – I will talk a bit about bridging gaps between E.P.s and albums and how artists find their inspiration for songs. I am reviewing a lot of solo artists but, for the most part, they tend to be female artists. I am assessing men in music but it is harder for them to stand out on the band. In fact, more than ever, the solo artist needs to stand out and register in the mind. It is possible to stand out and stay in the brain but, in a packed and hectic scene, that is becoming more difficult by the day. Bands are fuller and they tend to hold more potential in the eyes of many – bigger sounds and more emphatic. I have always held a lot of affection for solo artists because they have to shoulder all the burdens and tasks of their career without anyone else’s help. Fil Bo Riva has a lot of lure when it comes to attracting new fans – which I shall address soon – but the young man has the ammunition to succeed. Many of us have to go through life and make sense of the bad experiences and the good. The way I see it is the solo musician can channel those times into great songs and stories. Fil Bo Riva collects together his time on the road and personal encounters and filters it into rich and stimulating music. The reason why I feel the band struggles against the promise of the solo artist is what the market expects from them.


Bands are often primed to have that festival-ready sound or they need to produce something big and bombastic. I know there are bands that can succeed by writing intelligent, softer songs but it is becoming harder and harder to separate yourself from the pack. Bands also have the challenge of creating harmony and balance in the ranks. They have members who might be on a different page and it can be quite hard compromising and finding common ground. Solo artists can create as they wish and do not have the issue of disagreement. They can also bring in other musicians, as Fil Bo Riva has, and make something fulsome and colourful. One of the reasons I wanted to mention this topic is male solo artists have to, at the moment, fight against that Ed Sheeran-like impression. Any songwriter with sensitivity and a guitar is, to many, compared to Sheeran. There are other mainstream artists culpable but the male singer-songwriter is much more interesting than an acoustic guitar and love songs. Fil Bo Riva brings in fantastic instrumentations and lyric ideas to create something heady and scenic. I feel we get it into our heads the male solo artist is going to be quite limited and not have the same clout as a band. Maybe the acoustic artists and hollow Pop artists of the mainstream have blurred our senses. Look out at the scene and there are many riches to be discovered. We are in a position where artists have more at their disposal and they have a history of music to pick from. I maintain the female solo artist is more interesting and fulsome: the male songwriter is on the rise and there are some fantastic examples on the market right now. One of the reasons Fil Bo Riva strikes my ear is a unique and personal sense of songwriting. He does not write to please labels or fit into some sort of niche. He is a pure and instinct-driven musician who fuses dynamic and dreamy guitars with diverse vocals.

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Time Is Your Gun is the third single from the songwriter’s upcoming album. There are a lot of exciting times ahead for Fil Bo Riva and he has a lot of the world to see. One of the contrasts you get with a solo artist is being isolated and alone and having the world at your feet. With Fil Bo Riva; he gets the time to hunker in the studio and dedicate some time there. The musician loves being in the studio and seeing songs come to life. With a select bunch of musicians and other bodies; he can work on songs and build them gradually. Fil Bo Riva is someone who loves being in the studio and seeing the music come to life. Music leaves everything else at the door and focuses on the task at hand. The young man loves music and everything one can get from it. He gives his all to it and, in return, provides the listener with something incredibly direct, moving and engaging. I mentioned the contrasts and how solo artists have the chance to explore the world. Although Fil Bo Riva is a solo artist – many might be confused by other bodies in photographs – he works with other musicians on stage and allows his varied and kaleidoscopic sounds to expand and flourish. It can be quite lonely and hard for a solo artist and it is a lot of hard work succeeding and getting your career off the ground. Many find it too challenging and hard to keep pace or suffer from disenchantment. That passion and focus has to shine through and one must not lose sight of why they are doing this. Fil Bo Riva is someone who loves making music but he connects with the people and, I suspect, loves nothing more than being on stage and getting his music to big audiences. It is a heady and vivid experience being a musician today.


PHOTO CREDIT: Juliane Spaete

It can, by contrast, be suffocating being on stage and having that huge reaction from the crowd. Fil Bo Riva takes his experiences and stories from the stage and takes them into music. Fil Bo Riva was born in Rome but spent time in Berlin and Dublin – I will talk about that in a bit. It is the curiosity of the world and the need to take the music far and wide that makes Fil Bo Riva such a fantastic proposition. I stated how it is hard for a solo artist because we have an impression of who they are what they should be about. It is easy to get the impression they will all be quite dull or sound the same. That is true with many: in the case of Fil Bo Riva; he provides the strength and passion of a band and puts his entire personality and mind into the music. There is so much working away and there for the uninitiated listener. There is nothing to suggest Fil Bo Riva cannot claim big glory and become a mainstream artist. I say that because of the energy he has and how he puts his all into creating. The world of music is a vast and bustling one – you need to be steely and defiant to survive and get to the top. Fil Bo Riva balances being in the studio and crafting songs and being on stage and seducing audiences. The solo artist, I feel, will make a comeback and get the same respect as bands. A lot of the solo artists who get big respect and critical attention at the moment are from the world of R&B and Pop. Fil Bo Riva is more Alternative and Indie. Those styles have some great players but they are taking on the might of Pop, R&B and Hip-Hop. Rather than pummel us with energy and electricity; Fil Bo Riva goes deeper and wins your heart with a blend of urgent vocals and enticing compositions. The songs are very personal and real. You feel that direct connection with the songwriter – he provides a glimpse of the world you would not otherwise get.


PHOTO CREDIT: Juliane Spaete

With an album due; times are exciting for Fil Bo Riva. He has released the singles, Head Sonata (Love Control) and Blindmaker. Both of those songs had their own skin and sensation. Time Is Your Gun recalls the sounds of his debut E.P. but departs in a way. It does not sound like his other material and wets the appetite for the upcoming album. Even though he tries to steer away from the words; there is a romantic and cinematic sensation to the music. In fact, he embraces the word ‘cinematic’ and wants the music to project a rather grand and engrossing sound. In a way, his previous works have been snapshots or photos; impressions of a scene and a stable image – we can use our imaginations to predict the scenes before and after that photo was taken. In many ways, he has moved and creates more fluid, moving and widescreen music. Each song is like a story; one has a fuller and more stimulating type of music that brings more elements into the fold and has a rich and fulsome nature. I have been thinking about artists like Matt Corby and Jeff Buckley and how their best music is romantic and tender. They are musicians who won fans with spellbinding, passionate songs. It is difficult talking about love and life without coming across cliché or personal. The likes of Buckley and Corby managed to (Matt Corby is still recording) to win legions by writing from their heart but not being too insular and isolated. Fil Bo Riva has a romantic heart and, whilst not obsessed with love songs and his experiences, illuminates the page with a tenderness and colour that makes the heart skip a beat. Everything he does comes from his own heart and there is a lot of revelation and soul. Maybe I am losing my thread but it is nice to see an artist write songs that mean a lot to him. Fil Bo Riva is not chasing a market trend or writing material that has a commercial edge.


PHOTO CREDIT: Juliane Spaete

There is a lot of anticipation surrounding the upcoming album. The songwriter loves the album format and knows it is a very different world to the single and E.P. Whilst you can write unconnected songs or an E.P. that has loose ties; with an album, you have a much bigger task at hand. We are becoming less interested in the album and are moving to streaming and that quick fix. People skip through songs and d not often sit down and listen to an album in its entirety. Most of the records I listen to fully tend to be from years past. I love a lot of the albums released this year but do not often come back to them. It is harder for artists to attract and keep people hooked. Rather than pen an album of disconnected songs that could have come with anyone; Fil Bo Riva knows the importance of hooking all the tracks together and creating a real experience. I mentioned films and how Fil Bo Riva’s music has that moving and scenic sensation. Rather than write music that fades from view and does not provoke imagination; he writes songs that inspire you to close your eyes and picture what is happening. It is harder to leave an album and move quickly on if you are engrossed and distracted by what is being sung. It is more and more difficult producing albums where one sits down and keeps outside forces at bay. Fil Bo Riva has travelled the world and gained a lot from his time on the road. He brings all of that knowledge to the studio and writes music that takes the listener somewhere special. I will move on from this point – I was keen to explain how you’ll want to get involved with Fil Bo Riva’s album. I am excited to see what comes from Fil Bo Riva and how his album takes shape. Listen to the singles he has released and you get the sense something special is going to come through.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Zlexander Aielasko

Fil Bo Riva started life in Rome but has spent time in Berlin and Dublin. In fact; Fil Bo Riva spent his school years in Dublin and decamped to Berlin in 2012. He has had different experiences of Europe and taken a lot from each nation. That experience of travelling and seeing different people makes the music so much stronger. What amazes me is the difference between artists who do not really travel much and those who go around the world. I feel the latter has an advantage and can create more varied and interesting sounds. Fil Bo Riva seems to have found his home in Berlin and is based in a city become more and more popular. So many others are locating there and drinking in the cultures and various nationalities there. It is the touring and that side of the coin that stands out to me. Fil Bo Riva has supported Matt Corby and Aurora and shown his muscle to those at large festivals and intimate gigs. The debut E.P., If You’re Right, It’s Alright, was released in 2016 and amazed critics and fans. Guitarist Felix A. Remm was added to the mix and that early solo sound mutated into an on-stage duo. The current project has four members: Fil Bo Riva writes on his own, I believe, but the recorded material is played by a quartet. Whilst he travels the world and spends time in other cities; it is the draw of Berlin that keeps him coming back. It seems like that mixture of international adventure and homely love makes the music shine and resonate. I feel, if you are more isolated and do not travel far; the music only has limited potential and it can be quite samey. The young artist has matured and grown over the past couple of years. The young man has the promise and energy to last a long time in music and inspire the masses. I feel the music he is making at the moment is his very best – it will be interesting seeing where he goes from here and how his music changes.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Juliane Spaete

The singles we have seen so far have given one a taste of what the album is all about and the sort of images/sounds that we will witness. Fil Bo Riva has taken his music to various nations and drawn all of his life experiences into the fold. I wonder whether the young songwriter could go even further and act as a guide to new songwriters emerging. The musician has a lot of social media presence and keeps people informed of where he is going. He is across all the sites and options one might need and expect – you can get your fill, as it were. It is easy keeping in touch and knowing what goes on. I wonder whether more could be expended in regards to personal biography. At the moment, we can learn a lot about the music and how it has transitioned through the years. I would like to see a bit more about the man himself and the artists he grew up around. I understand why many want to avoid talking about that. It can be difficult revealing your influences because people hone in on that. You will listen to the music and, I guess, assume the artists Fil Bo Riva name-checks are what goes into his music. Rather than create that confusion and lazy journalism; he keeps stuff held back and allows people to make their own impressions. I would like to learn where he came from and what he is driven by, mind. I assume he was captivated by artists at a young age and it would be nice to see when he came into music. That is a minor slight and concern – most of what is put out there and known fills gaps and lets you know what Fil Bo Riva is all about. I shall move on and talk about his latest single, Time Is Your Gun.


One experiences some far-off and spectral notes from the off. The mood is quite moonlit and sparse. Rather than rush in with strings and needless rush; you get a more considered and haunted backdrop. Slight plinks and embers flicker and crackle as the hero comes to the microphone. When Fil Bo Riva sings, you have the impression of a young man who has experienced some heartache and disappointment. “Heaven’s beautiful in your head” is a line delivered with as much gravitas and potency as I have ever heard. You can detect the emotion and strain comes through. Maybe he is referring to himself and unable to distinguish between idealism and reality. He may have given his heart to someone who seemed perfect but, in fact, is not. Maybe neither is true and he is casting blame on someone else. The song starts quite slow and has that aching, echoing quality. It seems the heroine has lied – which makes the hero cry – and there is definite tension to be found. Rather than look at the song from the outside; the listener jumps in and follows the lyrics. That minimalist composition works wonders when it comes to emotional resonance. The vocal shines through and is what you are focusing on. You hear the passion and emotion in the voice and wonder what has provoked the split and unhappiness. Most relationships break up for limited reasons. There is no guarantee things will last, no matter how good they seem at the start. That might sound bleak but I mean it is hard to predict how a relationship will go and how long it will last. It seems things were good to start but have taken a turn for the worse. I am jumping to the relationship assumption without doing some proper investigation. The hero is in pain and is feeling the weight of the situation. The chorus comes in and, with that, the song takes a turn and becomes more energetic.


PHOTO CREDIT: Juliane Spaete

Percussion comes in and adds more drive and energy; there is more accusation and revelation. It seems the heroine messes the hero around and has been playing about. It seems like she is cheating or, at the very least, being dishonest and impure. Our man is unhappy and at his most angered. The girl wears a crown – he does not know why – and there is a palpable sense of release. Guitar and drum ramp up a bit and there is a definite wave of movement. It is the striking and slightly gravelled voice that gives the words such impetus, meaning and gravitas. You follow the song through and imagine the scenes taking place. The song’s title gets into the mind and you wonder what meaning it holds. In my mind, I was imagining a lover who shoots (metaphorically) at our hero and keeps on hurting him. Maybe she dredges up past memories and is not moving on; she might be able to reveal truth and plays with his heart. It is interesting reading that title and predicting what significance it holds. Time Is Your Gun keeps on brewing and raising the tension. You are never uncomfortable with the anxiety and anger coming through. You feel for the hero and wonder what has caused the tension. It is always hard to predict how a relationship will unfold but it seems Fil Bo Riva has hopes and wanted things to last. Whilst the duo is not separated and past the point of no return; there are signs to suggest things might not ensure too much longer. I guess the heroine has been cheating and leading our hero astray. Even though the song deals with some tough subjects; the music has a more upbeat and energised nature. You get little waves of guitar and drums before the song dips into acoustic territory. The hero wonders whether he will be remembered and respected; he is fighting against anonymity and is struggling to hold. This might sound gloomy and lost but, in many ways, there is beauty and hope to be found. Time Is Your Gun is a multi-part and fantastic song that keeps you guessing and provides endless beauty, soul and potency. You immerse yourself in the music and hold out hope things will work for the best. Although the hero is being overlooked and needs to be heard, I get the feeling things will work out for the best and he will be okay. He has a determination and desire to fight the waves and come out the other side. Time Is Your Gun will resound in many people’s hearts and strike a chord. It is a dramatic and fantastic sound that will get many people excited about the upcoming album and what it possesses. Another fantastic and memorable song from Fil Bo Riva.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Juliane Spaete

It is an exciting and adventurous time for the Berlin-based artist. Not only is he putting an album together but he is getting more acclaim and attention. Many people in the U.K. and responding to his music and the demand around the world means a busy touring schedule awaits. The young artist has changed from that lone writer to someone who, although a solo act, has a more collaborative mind. He works with Felix and, if anything, that unity has produced stronger material. Songs like Time Is Your Gun started as scraps of paper and ideas. It is how they transformed from those notes and slight impressions to a fully-fledged song that amazes me. The studio seems like a natural place for Fil Bo Riva. He loves seeing songs come to life and building them step by step. I know there will be a lot of excited people out there ready for the album and what it holds. I feel it will be his most realised and exciting work yet. Fil Bo Riva has some dates in Germany – he is in the U.K. in October – and is taking the music to the people. It is busy and exciting and, in the next few months, he will bring his songs to new audiences. I wonder how far he can go and what success he can accrue. It has been a thrilling and wonderful last couple of years for Fil Bo Riva: the next couple of years will be big and promising. His material, as I say, is getting better and there is a new appetite for solo artists who go against the grain and produce something deeper and more mature. You get romantic and cinematic clashes and something direct; colour and light together with more shadowed and intimate moments. It is a fulsome and nourishing cocktail that is hard to resist. Make sure you listen to Time Is Your Gun and follow the story of Fil Bo Riva. He is a brilliant young talent who is making moves and standing out. Also, when his album arrives, ensure you grab a copy and listen to it the whole way through. We are digesting fewer albums and not as in love with the format as before. With Fil Bo Riva, I feel that tendency and lazy habit…


WILL change.  


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