The clue is in the title really. California and soul, two things that scream long hot summers by the beach with a playlist to match. Except it’s not summer is it? Shame, as this is the soundtrack to a heatwave. The blues part of Supersonic Blues Machine is very much evident, but there is also a healthy dash of soul added. Throw in some lovely Carlos Santana-esque guitar flavours, and it’s time to stretch out and soak up the good vibes. Like 2016’s debut ‘West Of Flushing, South Of Frisco’ this album is a guitar nerd’s wet dream. Singer and guitarist Lance Lopez totally wails as he wrings every emotion out of his weapon of choice, but c’mere, there’s more. How about some guests? How about Robben Ford, Billy F. Gibbons (F for Fucking?), Eric Gales, Steve Lukather, and Walter Trout? Riffs and solos so massive, it’s like covering yourself in gravy and offering yourself as lunch to the hellhound that the neighbours call a dog! Lopez summons up the spirit of Hendrix on ‘Bad Boys’, which is so groovy and bootylicious that even Kim Kardashian would shy away from it. The solos are mind-blowing, and Lopez succeeds in raising the hairs on the back of the listeners neck. Try to listen to ‘The One’ without your mind drifting away to a sand kissed beach in some faraway place. Can’t be done, brah. Along with opener ‘I Am Done Missing You’, this is where the Santana vibes come from. The latin percussion certainly plays its part too, that’s for sure. ‘Cry’ is another highlight. Lopez has a warm, raspy voice that sounds like it has seen everything, and is perfect for this soul searching tale.
What about the aforementioned guests though? Ford makes his guitar sing on ‘Somebody’s Fool’, and proves yet again why he is so highly regarded by his peers. Gibbons does what Gibbons does best on ‘Broken Heart’ – boogie! and Eric Gales will have everyone stopping in their paths on ‘Elevate’. By lucifers beard, it is… heavy. Steve Lukather slows it down on the blues-drenched ‘Hard Times’, which has solos that truly need to be heard to be believed. Lastly, Walter Trout delivers a heartfelt performance on the slow blues gem that is ‘What’s Wrong’, and it is truly magical to hear him sounding so strong. The mix of “band” tracks and ones with “special guests” is perfect. Supersonic Blues Machine are no slouches. Kenny Aronoff is one of the most respected drummers around today, and along with bassist and producer Fabrizio Grossi, they make ‘Californisoul’ motor along like a finely tuned Rolls Royce… or maybe more like a classic American lowrider, cruising up and down the west coast of America with it’s top down. A welcome little bit of sunshine as we get ready to turn the clocks back and greet the darkness…
Available now on Mascot Label Group, more information on Supersonic Blues Machine here.
Review: Dave Stott