Los Lonely Boys, “Forgiven”
Recorded in Austin, Texas, it finds the Garza Brothers – Henry on guitar, Jo Jo on bass and Ringo on drums – playing on a studio soundstage, duplicating the set-up from their concert performances. For the most part the approach works just fine. The trio takes its trademark brand of fiery but soulful Tex-Mex blues and lights a fire under it on cuts like the gritty, Stevie Ray Vaughan-styled “Heart Won’t Tell a Lie,” or the groove-filled, slightly Allman Brothers’ reminiscent lead single “Staying With Me.” The difference between those acts and Los Lonely Boys is that the latter have a love of pop melodies and harmonies, which has been evident since they scored their breakthrough hit “Heaven” in 2003.
Henry Garza remains the driving force in the band, a tremendous guitarist who is consistently at the top of his game on “Forgiven.” His fevered fretboard work makes a huge difference in several tracks, notably “Another Broken Heart,” and the rock solid “Superman.”
A real treat here is the band’s faithful cover version The Spencer Davis Group’s vintage radio fave “I’m a Man,” which finds Henry in particular ripping things up.
Some of the material isn’t quite up to par with that found on the troupe’s 2003 self-titled debut or 2006’s “Sacred.” “Make It Better,” and “You Can’t See The Light,” are both pretty drab and frequently it’s the band’s musical virtuosity that gives a major lift to some of the lighter songs and subsequently ends up saving the day. Other times it’s the harmonies that come to the rescue, such as during “Love Don’t Care About Me.”
Still there’s enough to get excited about on any Los Lonely Boys’ release and “Forgiven” is no exception. The title track, with its theme of repenting and a search for redemption is just one of several songs here that rank among the band’s best.
Meanwhile, Jordan, the esteemed drummer best known for his work with Keith Richards and John Mayer among others, proved a perfect choice to co-produce the disc and no doubt helped inspire the Garzas plenty along the way.
Spinning back to their grimy beginnings 27 years ago, it’s tough to fathom the time would someday come when Motley Crue would one day be like old men looking back nostalgically on their years of decadence.
Of course, keep in mind that their own promotional material describes the lads in this fashion: “No band has consumed as many drugs and downed as much booze without dying as L.A.’s Motley Crue.”
So raise a flag and raise your fists, for here they are once more – Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee, Vince Neil and Mick Mars – with their first album to feature their original lineup in more than a decade.
Based on the best-selling biography “The Dirt,” the album finds The Crue shredding up the “City of Angels” with tales of wildness and debauchery.
“Down at The Whiskey” goes right back to the Crue’s origins on The Sunset Strip, while the foreboding title cut starts with the whispered “Our Father” and positively roars the rest of the way.
For better or worse, the rest of the music follows expectations, just trashy metal, raunchy lyrics and frequently dull, sing-song melodies like “The Animal in Me,” or “(Expletive) Of The Year.”
For those dying to go back to hair metal heaven, this one’s for you.