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Album review

Coco Montoya 

Songs From The Road

added: 8 Jun 2014 // release date: 19 May 2014 // label: Ruf
reviewer: Andy Snipper

Coco Montoya - Songs From The Road - Printable version
The latest in the ‘Songs From The Road’ series but this time it is a double CD and no DVD.

I’ve been tracking Coco for years, since I first heard him in the version of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers that included Walter Trout, although he started his career playing with Albert Collins, and while he hasn’t had the same level of exposure over here as Walter he is hugely respected and a hell of a guitar player too.

This finds him in a four piece with Brian Leeper on keyboards as well as a killer rhythm section in Nathan Brown and Rena Beavers and he sounds on top form with his voice smooth and passionate and his guitar chiming like a church bell. Producer Jim Gaines is on top form too, creating a mix that is clear as crystal but still keeping the dark intensity of a live show.

What strikes you first is just how familiar the songs are which is pretty odd because they are all originals but he is playing in a classic style and making music that hits you squarely in the heart like the best Blues music should. His guitar solo in ‘Too Much Water’ is killer with every not meaning and drawing you in to the song. On the Latinate ‘Hey Senorita’ Leepers piano put the song into a Mexican bar style and Montoya adds just the right amount of growl to his vocal to take the sweetness off the song.

His Albert Collins styled ‘Love Jail’ has a deep groove and has you nodding in time to the rhythm but when his guitar explodes at you it adds a deep ‘Iceman’ edge to the song. Montoya’s asides to the crowd keep it real and Leeper plays some wondrous Hammond to carry the song.

He trawls through a lot of his recorded material, most of it never recorded live before, and brings out some of his favourites like ‘Fannie Mae’ or the wonderful and soulful ‘I Won’t Beg’ which has a brilliant bass line from Nathan Brown.

Montoya is a superb technician but the thing that makes this album special is the heart and the joy in his playing – this is no shredder or techno-wizz, this is a Bluesman born and bred and the stage is right place for him to be.

File under ‘extra special’.


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4 stars

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