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Gilbert; Paul: Vibrato

There's no denying that Paul Gilbert has gone to great pains to ensure that he doesn't end up as of life's pigeon-holed musicians. Respected for his stupendous guitar talent and ability behind the microphone, Gilbert has been a major force behind heavy rock outfit Racer X and chart conquering melodic rockers Mr Big. However when it comes to Gilbert gone solo, a different beast is revealed altogether, with a blues, jazz, rock fusion being hammered out in utterly convincing style. It is a path sure to lose some of Gilbert's more mainstream followers, but any lover of stinging guitar playing with compelling tone and touch, will be spellbound by solo album number 12, Vibrato.

Just as Gilbert's outlook on his music is, so Vibrato proves to be an uncompromising statement which is as full on and committed as you can imagine. That doesn't mean that it all completely comes off, or hits home in quite the style intended, but there's no denying, as with any album given this amount of heart and soul, that it is a compelling journey. Gilbert doesn't so much play his guitar on Vibrato, as attack it with a ferocious verve that draws you in, before spitting you out with bluesy roar.

The opening pair of "Enemies (In Jail)" and "Rain And Thunder And Lightning" immediately announce that this is a no compromise album with blues riffs a-roaring, jazzy break-outs a-meandering and vocals a-hollering. Both tracks are full on rompers, although, there's an argument that the pair could do with being a tad shorter. Compromise however feels very low down on the priority list on this album. From there Gilbert, ably assisted by Emi Gilbert (keyboards/vocals), Kelly Lemieux (bass) and Thomas Lang (drums) veers through introspective, if fret burning blues - "Bivalve Blues", soulful, multi-layered, almost Gospel like vocals - "Atmosphere On The Moon" and jumpy, humpy, funky - "Vibrato". The latter of which is an absolute stonker of a song.

And then just as you thought you had Vibrato all figured out through its first eight tracks of soaring soul, burning blues, jaunty jazz and full-on funk, the final three songs turn everything on their head. Live covers of "Roundabout" (Yes), "I Want To Be Loved" (Willie Dixon) and "Go Down" (AC/DC), fire out prime-time prog, brutal blues and brutish boogie - in that order, adding even more adrenaline to the attack. This time Tony Spinner (guitar/vocals), Craig Martini (bass/vocals) and Jeff Bowders (drums) are on hand to drive Gilbert's vision home and it has to said that their efforts top all that has come before, with all three covers steamrollered through with more howling feedback, monstrous riffage and searing solos than ever before. And that says something.

Vibrato can sometimes suffer from its own shear unwillingness to bow down and compromise and there are occasions where a little restraint could actually have increased the intensity. However there's little doubt that Paul Gilbert is a guitarist and songwriter of immense talent and skill and that's always a reason to rejoice!

Track Listing
1. Enemies (In Jail)
2. Rain And Thunder And Lightning
3. Vibrato
4. Put It On The Char
5. Bivalve Blues
6. Blue Rondo A La Turk
7. Atmosphere On The Moon
8. The Pronghorn
9. Roundabout
10. I Want To Be Loved
11. Go Down

Added: October 13th 2012
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Paul Gilbert Online
Hits: 2185
Language: english

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