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Hoey, Gary: Utopia

Gary has always been kind of my secret weapon. Whenever someone wants to talk about great guitarist I keep his name in reserve until the discussions of Clapton, Vai, Petrucci are done and then I bring up Gary and usually get a blank stare followed by the customary… "Who"? It is an easy way to tell if the discussion is with someone who has any kind of inkling about the greatest guitar players out there. Gary is listed as one of the 100 greatest guitarists but the fame of others has eluded him even though he has received the accolades of both critics and his contemporaries. He has made 16 albums and has been on the Billboard top 20 5 times but is still relatively unknown. Even doing the soundtrack to the surfer classic Endless Summer gained him some fame but not to the extent as the music warranted. Well, all that should end with the release of his newest creation Utopia. Not only does Gary deliver his six string magic once more, he has to go and prove that his vocal ability is on a par with his guitar playing! This time around he seems to be more at ease with his singing and it really shows as he gives us a dynamite album all the way around. For a great dose of melodic metal there is no reason to look any further than Hoey's latest!

One thing that I have always loved about Gary is his ability to take any style of music and make it his own personal playground. This diversity is very apparent on Utopia and we are the lucky recipients of his talent. Of course there are the scorching instrumentals like the title track "Utopia" along with the funky "Big Cactus" and his nod to the surf crowd "Bonzai Island" but it is the other 9 tracks that really capture a different side of Hoey. These songs show him stretching the vocal chords as much as the E string. He gives us a harsher version of his brand of melodic metal with the fierce "Walk Away", You're Killing Me" and "Inevitable" then he lightens it up with a more mainstream approach as in "Only Human" or "Reminds Me Of You" which is the Velcro song on here and will get stuck in your head and refuse to come out. Gary also gets his groove on with the psychedelic funk of "Simplify" and "Something's Going On" which rocks in a Sly Stone kind of way and is hard to resist for someone who grew up on Motown.

Another song that hits you hard is the acoustic/electric mix of the terrific power ballad "If I Knew Then" which shows a maturity and sense of melody Gary has not explored too much in his past. I certainly hope we hear more of this potent type of music from him. It also highlights his growing lyrical ability as what he sings is just as interesting as how he sings it and you will be warbling along with him after just a few spins of the disc.

This is by far the most complete album that Hoey has ever done. It takes everything that you liked about him in the past and adds a whole new dimension which will keep you coming back for more. He seems to be at peace with himself and that is reflected in this album that will bring a smile to your face and make you glad to have the opportunity to enjoy what Gary has learned over the years. I'm sure there are a few lessons that we have all endured along with Mr. Hoey but most of us cannot relate them in such a cool way as he can.

Track listing:

1. Utopia
2. Walk Away
3. Reminds Me Of You
4. Inevitable
5. Something's Going On
6. Only Human
7. You're Killing Me
8. Barn Burner
9. If I Knew Then
10. Simplify
11. Big Cactus
12. Bonzai Island

Added: November 3rd 2010
Reviewer: Scott Ward
Related Link: Gary Hoey's Official Site
Hits: 2645
Language: english

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