If the new Los Lonely Boys CD, “Forgiven,” sounds like it captures the essence of a live performances, there’s a good reason for that.
Producer Steve Jordan thought the right way to record Los Lonely Boys was to make the process feel as much like a live gig as possible.
You can, of course, hear the band live on Thursday at the Paramount Center for the Arts in Peekskill.
Jordan set up a sound stage in Austin, Texas, hit the record button and documented what happened when brothers Henry (guitar), Jojo (bass) and Ringo Garza (drums) played.
“We had recorded pretty much live on every record,” Jojo Garza said, mentioning the self-titled 2003 debut and the 2006 release, “Sacred.” “But then there was a little dissecting going on toward the end of (those projects) and you were doing vocals or a separate guitar (track) or separate bass, you know, how it goes on other records. This, however, was very free.
“It was kind of like we had a stage in there,” he said. “There were some lights. We had our full rigs going, Henry’s guitar rig, my bass rig, and microphones set up and monitors, and no headphones – no headphones at all.”
The bassist also thinks what comes through on the recorded tracks was the actual in-the-moment spirit and atmosphere that Los Lonely Boys experienced as the three brothers played the new collection of songs.
“The creativity and the music was so thick that you could literally grab the notes out of the air,” Jojo Garza said. “I’m speaking with a little bit of exaggeration, but … we definitely captured that in a lot of these songs, particularly my personal favorite song, ‘Forgiven.’ It captures a total vibe and a total feeling of what we were feeling when we recorded it.”
The Garza brothers grew up surrounded by music. Their father fronted a popular band with his brothers and sister in San Angelo, Texas. That group, though, came to a sudden and tragic end when one of brothers died.
So as Henry, Jojo and Ringo were entering their teens, they became their father’s backing band – gaining a deep appreciation for early rock ‘n’ roll, blues and their native conjunto music, as they played clubs first around Texas and later in Nashville during the 1990s.
The first Los Lonely Boys album produced a number one single in the pop-soul tune “Heaven.” The song’s popularity kept the “Los Lonely Boys” CD on the “Billboard” album chart for 76 weeks. “Heaven” won a Grammy for best pop performance by a duo or group with vocal.
Looking back, Jojo Garza admitted that the group could have used more time on its second album. To him, the pressure the band felt is apparent in the performances.
“I don’t think it got the recognition it did deserve,” Jojo Garza said, “but that’s speaking myself because I did write the songs and what not. … If you listen back to it, you can definitely tell the difference in how this (new) album breathes.”
Indeed, there were no time pressures in making “Heaven,” and Los Lonely Boys sound both energized and relaxed throughout the record, as the group once again delivers a wide-ranging mix of bluesy rock ‘n’ roll, pop and soul, all spiced with a touch of their Mexican heritage.
Even on hard-hitting bluesy tracks like “Heart Won’t Tell A Lie,” “Superman” and a stirring cover of the Spencer Davis Group standard “I’m A Man,” the group’s playing sounds unforced yet crisp. On mid-tempo songs like “Forgiven” and “Staying With Me,” the brothers meld smooth melodies with soulful performances.
Los Lonely Boys diversify the mix with songs like “Loving You Always,” (a sweet ballad with some definite Tex-Mex spice), “Cruel” (a shuffling blues-rocker) and “The Way I Feel” (a song with a bit of an Allman Brothers feel to it).
The set they’ll play Thursday at the Paramount showcases material from “Forgiven,” without forgetting about earlier favorites.
“Now that we have ‘Forgiven’ out, we’re really trying to hit the new songs, of course, because that’s what it’s all about, trying to get the new album promoted.” Jojo Garza said.
“But at the same time, we now, I guess I should say, have the luxury of having three albums out, so we’ve got a lot of material to pick from. And we (still) do the occasional cover songs that we still enjoy doing.
“But the show’s going to change up pretty much every night. We’re doing anything and everything we can, man.”