Sunday, March 11, 2012

Anthony Gomes 'Up 2 Zero' CD Review

Anthony Gomes

Up 2 Zero

Released March 6, 2012  (Up 2 Zero Entertainment)

Track List:

1. Back To The Start
2. One Last Time
3. Love Sweet Love
4. Fly Away
5. Darkest Before The Dawn
6. Room 414
7. Voodoo Moon
8. Anywhere You Run
9. Last Bluesman Gone
10. Up 2 Zero
11. N’Abandonne Pas


Anthony Gomes - Vocals/Guitar

Scot Sutherland - Bass/Vocals (Touring Band Only)

Roger Femali - Drums (Touring Band Only)

Additional Musicians:

Michael Rhodes - Bass

Greg Morrow - Drums

Reese Wynans - Keyboards

Glen Caruba - Percussion

Vicki Hampton - Background Vocals

Wendy Moten  - Background Vocals

Trez Gregory  - Background Vocals

Tania Hancheroff - French Background Vocals

Eve Paradis - French Background Vocals

Chris Carmichael - Strings arrangement and performance

Chris Leuzinger - Rhythm Guitar 


Produced by Anthony Gomes & Peter Carson

How appropriate that the album kicks off with a song entitled "Back To The Start".  It is an omen for things to come because as Anthony Gomes proclaimed in 2010, he was going "Back To The Blues".  He has done just that with the past two years of touring and now with this album.  His first release since branching out into a more Southern Rock feel with his New Soul Cowboys band and self-titled album in 2009.  While the New Soul Cowboys band and album weren't bad by any means, I thought it lacked the "Spirit" of his previous albums and tours!  Blues/Blues Rock is where Anthony belongs because The Blues is his HOME!!  Welcome Home Anthony……Welcome Home!!

Judging by the first twenty seconds of  Back To The Start, Anthony isn't wasting any time embracing his true calling!  His tone and playing on this track is undoubtedly making Stevie smile from the Heavens.  It is pure Blues, full of emotion that makes you FEEL every note!!  Lyrically speaking of getting back to a love left behind.  One can sense that it is all a metaphor for going back to his bluesy roots.  One Last Time finds Anthony bringing forth the influence of B.B. King.  I'm really digging his vocal approach on these first couple tunes.  He is singing more from the gut and allowing the emotional delivery of the lyrics to be as raw as can be without polishing them up in the studio or layering AutoTune on his vocals.

Love Sweet Love was the first single released prior to the album.  While talking with my friend Rodney about the single, he said the song had a Eric Clapton feel to it.  It wasn't til I downloaded the album off of iTunes and played it through my home stereo that I got what Rodney was saying.  This cut could have easily been on one of Eric's album in the 1970's or 1980's.  A great lead-off single.  Fly Away is the track that I was more than a tad leery of checking out because it is a re-written/re-arranged version of 'Bluebird' that appeared on his 2006 release "Music Is The Medicine'.  'Bluebird' has become a favorite among his legions of fans & a staple of his live show, it IS my all-time favorite track from Anthony.    I caught Anthony live on February 10th & was impressed with how he had re-worked the song.  I was a bit worried that I wouldn't like it but after hearing the new version live, as well as hearing it a couple of times on my iPod & a few spins on the home stereo I've come to love it as a completely different song.  Musically, it doesn't have the same gospel approach the original had and the riff is alot heavier & overall, the song has more of a groove to it. 

Uh-oh, a double shot of re-working Anthony Gomes "classics".  Here, Anthony has re-arranged Darkest Before The Dawn from his 2002 album "Unity".  He has slowed the tempo down, added rhythm guitars done by Chris Leuzinger, added some female background vocals straight from a Gospel Choir and accented the song with a string section.  All that has taken the already amazing song to a whole other level.  EPIC seems to be a word that would fit!!  Room 414 kicks the album back into high gear with a nice bar-room boogie.  My hats off to Richard Dodd who mixed the album especially when he pans the guitar solo from left to right during a section of the solo, giving it the feeling of dueling guitars.  The keyboard stabs add a lil' "sumthin-sumthin" to the song!

Voodoo Moon instantly became a favorite of mine because of the haunting vibe of the music and the intense story told by the lyrics.  The story is based in Clarksdale Mississippi on Highway 49.  The lyrics evoke a vision of what it must be like sitting under the moon at midnight down in the Delta. The mood is accented by some subtle Dobro parts, tasteful slide playing, atmospheric keys and raspy almost-spoken parts by Anthony.  I would love to see this made into a music video.  Robert Johnson and The Devil are no-doubt digging this tune!  Anywhere You Run is the song on the album that I relate to the most, lyric-wise.  I couldn't have expressed what I have been feeling as of late any better than Anthony did on this song. Last Bluesman Gone gives me chills to say the least.  Clocking in at just two minutes and ten seconds long, Anthony packed a lot of emotion into that timeframe.  A somber acoustic driven melody with an eerie chant-like gospel hymn that gives the track almost a funeral dirge feel to what you are hearing.  It ranks up there with Voodoo Moon as my favorite tracks on this album.  The subject matter is sad, touching on some of the Blues greats we have lost over the last few years.  However, the likes of Anthony, Eric Sardinas & Big Motor, Joe Bonamassa and Moreland & Arbuckle are carrying the torch for The Blues.  In my opinion, as a Blues lover, it is heartbreaking to see so many legends pass on but with the likes of the aforementioned, The Blues is in GREAT hands!

Shifting back into high gear with the title track, Up 2 Zero has long been a part of Anthony's live show having appeared on his 2008 "Live" album.  Listeners finally get a proper studio version and it doesn't disappoint his longtime fans.  The guitar solo simply smokes!  We come to the end of this audio journey with the eleventh track which is version of 'Darkest Before The Dawn' sang entirely in French entitled "N'Abandonne Pas".  I'd bet my paycheck that his Mother is extremely proud of this rendition as she is French-Canadian. 

Overall, this album has more of a raw feel to it than his past releases but DO NOT get me wrong, it is one of his best to date.  This is as straight-ahead Blues as you can get whereas his previous releases had equal parts soul, funk and gospel.  Those elements are still present, they're just toned down a lot.  Anthony has stripped away the fancy production tricks and delivered an album of pure emotion be it vocally or musically!