Guitar world CD review

For the August issue.. as you can see, I like this band and recommend the album, which will be out next month.

Los Lonely Boys
Sacred
OR/EPIC
****


BY ALAN PAUL

The success of the Los Lonely Boys’ self-titled 2004 debut was as surprising as it was massive. The trio of young Texan brothers came out of nowhere to become multi-platinum Grammy-winning stars. The success was due in part to the band’s remarkable ability to be all things to all people. Even as Henry Garza emerged as a blues-rock guitar hero, staking a righteous claim to Stevie Ray Vaughan’s vacant throne, the group’s catchy tunes and sunny melodies appealed to a more mainstream audience. The hit single “Heaven” epitomized this mass appeal and fueled the group’s rise, a blast of summer joy you were equally likely to encounter blasting from a backyard barbecue or soothing your ears at the supermarket.

Following up such a debut can be a daunting task, and young bands have wilted under much less pressure. But on Sacred, Los Lonely Boys shrug off any such concerns, striking an effortless middle ground between repeating themselves and stretching beyond their comfort zone. Sacred is more of the same, only better. The band always sounded veteran beyond their years; no surprise since they began touring as their father’s backing band as preteens. On Sacred, they sound even more mature, confident and sure of whom they are.

The Lonely Boys’ music connected with such a broad spectrum of listeners because it was at once fresh and familiar. You could easily pick out the aural tips of the hat to Dickey Betts, George Harrison, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Carlos Santana, because the Boys wore their influences on their sleeves. But everything was combined into a new form and seasoned with a Tex Mex sound that included healthy doses of Spanish singing and an unabashed pop sensibility.

On Sacred, the influences are the same yet not nearly so obvious, with everything more absorbed into what is now a readily identifiable Los Lonely Boys sound. Though the album lacks a true guitar showcase ala the debut’s “Onda,” Garza still packs a wallop, with a beefier, warmer, less brittle tone. His pungent lines often accent or counterpoint his vocals, sometimes spinning off into extended solos.

Keyboardist Reese Wynans returns to add flavoring, and a horn section augments the band on two cuts. A Mexican accordion drives “Texican Style” while ”Outlaws” features vocals by Willie Nelson and father Enrique Garza, both crucial band mentors. But the album’s overall sound is more streamlined and cohesive than their debut, with no sidetrips into pop balladry. The focus is on the trio’s knack for combining hard-driving rock and strong, hummable melodies, often delivered with seamless three-part vocal harmonies that sound as one voice.

The band sounds so comfortable and at ease, it seems as if every song just rolled off their fingers and out their mouths. It is impossible to imagine the mojo running dry, meaning there is every reason to believe that Los lonely Boys will be anything but one-hit wonders. You certainly will never hear the band associated with the dreaded words “sophomore slump.”

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