Pittsburg-based artist and producer Freddie Nelson has the smell of the golden age of the Sunset Strip all over him. The hot shot guitarist, singer, songwriter and producer gained notoriety in 2010, collaborating with hair metal-tinged guitar virtuoso, Paul Gilbert. In 2015 he decided to strike out on his own and began writing the songs that would become Shake the Cage. The arena-ready album has Nelson taking the reigns, recording most of the parts himself save the drums and piano. The artist's songwriting skills are on full display here. He crafts tight pop-savvy melodies and holds back from the guitar heroics of which he's capable in order to serve the songs, instead opting to use solos that reinforce the melody rather than veer off on proggy tangents. Shake the Cage is a collection of songs celebrating the rock n roll lifestyle with the occasional wistful moment that lasts only as long as a glance in the tour bus rearview mirror as you press on to the next town down the road.

Opener 'Turn You On' is full of throbbing guitars and yelping leads. The testosterone is all out on the table. Lead single 'Hey Doll' sinks back into a laid-back groove. The lyrics “Hey Doll let me know if ya wanna have a go” give an equally laid-back take on things. 'Light' (read: spotlight) steers things in a very Queen-like direction. The swaying balladry, the muted climbing guitar runs and of course Nelson's voice that goes full Mercury on this track.

Further into the album, 'Let You Go' has the leading 7th chords, jaunty drumming and dense backing vocals of a Beatles tune circa 1965 but with the tonal sensibilities of the Sunset Strip in the '80s. This hybrid makes this poppy track one of the most compelling on the album.

Freddie Nelson's solo venture is a solid piece of LA rock. A scene that never fully let go of its roots in the late eighties when leather, lipstick and loose ladies made Los Angeles the one and only mecca for rock n roll. The occasional fusion with other styles gives the album another dimension but for the most part, it has both feet firmly planted in the genre that birthed it.