Album Review: Los Lonely Boys, “Forgiven” (Epic)
Published July 7, 2008 10:07 AM
By Don Zulaica / LiveDaily Contributor
The San Angelo, TX, brother triumvirate–Henry (guitar/vocals), JoJo (bass/vocals), and Ringo Garza (drums/vocals)–went back to basics for their third studio album, recorded at Austin’s East Side Stages.
Drummer Steve Jordan (John Mayer, Herbie Hancock) was in the producer’s chair, and he decided to have the Garza brothers playing live on a soundstage, rather than the current standard method of isolating each of the musicians in a separate room. For these guys, that’s a good strategy, and the result is a spirited, live-sounding album.
Stylistically, there’s not a lot of deviation from their Tex-Mex norm. The 12-bar blues “Heart Won’t Tell a Lie” finds Henry laying a thick Stevie Ray Vaughn guitar tone (vocals recall the late bluesman as well), while the lazy summer groove of “Forgiven” backs the rich vocal harmonies the group is known for.
“Loving You Always” has more distinct Mexican underpinnings, both in vocal harmonies and acoustic guitars, while “I’m a Man” goes straight for the Hendrix experience, both in Henry’s wah wah attack, and the rock-funk feel from JoJo and Ringo (augmented by Jordan on percussion). Pushing the lineup to a quartet, the mid-tempo “You Can’t See the Light,” bluesy waltz “Another Broken Heart,” and “Heaven”-ly shuffle of “The Way I Feel” feature Dr. John on keyboards (Hammond B3 on the first two, Wurlitzer on the latter).
“Staying With Me” also rekindles the nuances of the aforementioned hit from their self-titled 2004 debut, and throughout the slower “Make It Better,” funk chunk of “Superman,” and waltz-like feel of “Cruel,” the Garza brothers mesh as effortlessly as they always have. The difference here should be credited to Jordan, who, by getting the group on the same soundstage, and even going so far as recreating the front-of-house sound setup, effectively captured both a live-concert feel and studio clarity. It’s a wonder more producers don’t do the same.