Richie Kotzen – Cannibals (Review)
Richie Kotzen’s latest CD titled “Cannibals” is an interesting affair. Coming surprisingly hot on the heels of his 2014 ‘best of’ collection “The Essential Richie Kotzen“, this is an album of 10 all new tracks. However, there’s a very different feel to this album with Richie taking a far more soulful and funky direction.
The album is largely made up of tracks that he’s written over the years that didn’t quite fit the project of the time, but now have been brought together to form a more cohesive album with a similar feel throughout. The exception to this being the title track itself which was written specifically for the album.
Richie is well known for his virtuoso guitar playing and incredible vocals but this album sees him playing almost every instrument, with the exception of piano on the track “You” which is played by his daughter August.
The title track “Cannibals” opens the album with a funky groove and a catchy chorus mixed with a guitar solo that somehow has an almost country feel. “In an Instant” has a more laid back soulful feel complete with female backing singers and is one of the highlights of the album which has now been released as a video.
Next up is “The Enemy“, another soulful mid tempo offering followed by the pacier “Shake it Off” complete with Hammond style organs and the pure soul of “Come on Free“.
“I’m all In” sees Richie trading vocals with the amazing dUg Pinnick (King’s X, KXM etc.) who seems to be on everyones list to duet with. This has a slightly bluesier feel than the other tracks on offer but isn’t at all out of place. “Stand Tall” gets us back in full funk groove with the lower lead vocals being provided by Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big, Winery Dogs, Dave Lee Roth, Talas) before another album highlight “Up (You Turn Me)” a real feel good, uplifting song with backing vocals by Julia Lage who also features on several other tracks.
“You” must be a particularly proud moment for Richie as a parent, with the track being penned by Richie’s daughter August who also plays piano on the track. This has a very somber feel to it and in truth doesn’t quite fit with the other soul and funk infused tracks in my opinion.
The last, and to these ears, the standout track of the album is “Time for the Payment“. A ballad which has Richie stretching out on nylon string guitar and putting in an incredible vocal performance that is so full of emotion and worth the price of the album itself.
This isn’t just another Richie Kotzen solo effort. It sees Richie really stretching his wings, taking a different and possibly more risky approach as this more soulful, funky feel may not be to everyones taste. Who can tell whether this is a more permanent change in direction or not but I for one would certainly welcome more of the same with open arms.
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