An immediate listen to Resolution, Andy's second CD on Steve Vai's Favored Nations label, makes it abundantly clear that Andy Timmons time has arrived and his time IS right now! It is time for Andy's name to be spoken in the same breath and held in the same regard as those of Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. It is time for him to take his rightful place, right at, or very near the top of the list of the finest purveyors of instrumental rock guitar in our era.
I could never say enough good things about Andy's superb musicality, his innate pop sensibility, his impeccable note selection, phrasing and above all, other worldly modern electric guitar tone. Andy cajoles, coaxes, throttles and caresses the most exquisite sounds out of his signature guitar (Ibanez AT300) and amplifier combination. When future budding musicians are researching the flagship guitar sound of our era, they will not be off the mark if they somehow hit upon this CD.
Andy's tone has always been legendary, however at some point during the production of this long awaited release, Andy and co-producer bass player extraordinaire Mike Daane decided "pretty good is not enough" so they embarked on what they call "the Tone Quest" to seek out and produce the various tones required for the tracks on this CD. The release date has been delayed many months to accommodate this quest, but the result is well worth the wait! Andy has also paid homage to many of his heroes and contemporaries with short flashes of tone and phrasing throughout this work. I will mention a few and leave it to the listener to determine what they may hear!
The CD is a true power trio band production of expert song craft and controlled mayhem. Mike Daanes (who did a phenomenal job engineering ALL the guitar tracks at his home studio in addition to playing bass guitar and co-producing with Andy) and Mitch Marine (drums) had a hand in co-writing with Andy fully half of the tracks on this CD. The tone fest opens with "Deliver Us" a mid tempo number with an insistent picked note versus chorded ask and answer theme recurring throughout the song. The solo comes in with a Satch-like wah tinged flurry before soaring into a space and place that is all Andy. "Helipad" builds in volume on a tribal like drum beat passing over some Eric Johnson tone and phrasing territory before ramping up over an insistent bass guitar driven path into the most effected Andy solo on the release. As Andy himself has said: "The title, Resolution, has several meanings. My favorite one is 'the act of reducing something to its simplest form'. That's really the goal of the whole record... one guitar track, bass and drums... nothing simpler than that!" To that end, the use of effects and multi-tracking is indeed minimal on this CD! "Ghost Of You" initially eases off the gas pedal as Mitch settles into a very Simon Phillips like groove (not surprising as Andy has frequently worked with Dr. Phillips). The tune then gets heavy with Andy providing excellent soloing and tone over walking bass lines right down to the final string rasps. "Resolution" is a gorgeous tune replete with Andy's signature vocal-like guitar phrasing. Andy is one of the very few instrumental artists capable of providing this vocal like quality to his lines and keeping the listening experience interesting. "Redemption" is the short crisp rocker on this release. All Andy, all the way, with as usual, the perfectly note selected and phrased solo passages.
As is also usual with Andy, he follows a rouser with what starts off as a softer edged introspective piece. "Lydia" however quickly morphs into a chord cruncher with anthemic high octane lead guitar. "Gone (9/11/01)" is Andy's tribute to and is "a musical snapshot of the range of emotions we all felt that day and every day forward". As you might expect, this one runs the gamut of the emotion spectrum from Jeff Beck like whispers through wailing, crying and screaming guitar sirens reminding one of rock era Gary Moore. It is however at the end of the day, another Andy Timmons classic…. a "piece de resistance" performance as only Andy can deliver containing an emotionally charged, searing guitar performance throughout. "Move On" another short sweet number, starts out and frequently returns to a classic 70ies rock like power chord progression interspersed with memorable modern lead guitar passages. "Beware Dark Days" the longest song on the CD, is another mid tempo melodic tune performed over a shuffling drum beat and crunchy power chords that also traverses a couple of superb rimshot driven sections. The first, provides a super cool jazzy interlude and the second provides the basis for a remarkable, occasionally Hendrix/Vaughn like long bluesy outro solo passage with at its core, another memorable hook. "The Prayer/The Answer" starts with "The Prayer" which is another soft introspective display of silken tone which builds into "The Answer" which of course is barely contained, over the top, searing Andy soloing which contains a nod to the classic tune "A Little Help From My Friends". And then there is the hidden track. "Headed For The Ditch" is a hell bent mixture of super hot tabasco basted chicken picking fricassee and Who like power trio histrionics (lead bass lines/power chords and madcap drumming). Several chord progressions along the way are very reminiscent of the turbo-charged 1970ies Outlaws telecaster sound. A fun way indeed to cap off a truly epic guitar release (and a milestone in guitar sound production) from the Andy Timmons band. This IS a five star CD, but holding true to the philosophy that something must be held back to compensate for the rigor and pain of producing and generally dealing with a lead vocalist, I give this release 4-1/2 stars.
I will leave the last word to Mike Daane (a very witty fellow indeed) who posted the following succinct message on Andy's forum in regard to the goals and aspirations of this latest CD: "We set the bar pretty high for this record and we all feel like it measures up. We wanted the songs to be the main priority while still throwing in some wow factor. I'm pretty sure that anybody who has ever picked up a guitar will appreciate this record, but with any luck, we'll get one step closer to our ultimate goal......... girls."
Hmmm… I think Mike may have just summed up, in that last line, the whole reason behind music's existence…. In any era!
1. Deliver Us
3. Ghost Of You
7. Gone (9/11/01)
8. Move On
9. Beware Dark Days
10. The Prayer/The Answer
11. Bonus Track – Headed For The Ditch