Design By Humans
Published On: Wed, Mar 4th, 2015

Richie Kotzen: Cannibals

cannibalsRichie Kotzen

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Richie Kotzen’s 20th solo album is a masterpiece. Written, arranged, produced, performed, and recorded by this super-talented, secret weapon man who exploded into mainstream consciousness with The Winery Dogs, it is evident here on Cannibals that Kotzen courts a huge talent of groove and style.

Starting off with the super funk of the title track, it’s evident that Kotzen’s vocal ability, along with his distinctive guitar playing (and proficiency on all other instruments) is going to make this collection special. The big commercial chorus here makes a great opener even better.

“In an Instant” mines Lenny Kravitz territory (it’s just fatter sounding then the typical Kravitz song) on a tune about grown-up love with super strong backing vocals from Julia Lage and a heavy Kotzen-played back beat. The chorus here is just too singable! Mike Bennett’s percussion on “Shake It Off” creates another groove concoction where Kozten gets to both fly on organ soloing as well as guitar-searing noodling. “Come On Free” is a flumping fat fretless bass-led, ’70s-style, uptempo dance tune, Kotzen sounding totally different vocally. We even get a bass solo here and a “Hey Hey Hey, uh” chant at the end. “Stand Tall” is a distorted guitar chunker with none other than bass monster Billy Sheehan from The Winery Dogs offering the low vocals here. Just when you think this album can’t get any funkier, we get Stevie Wonder-sounding, drop-dead perfect choruses! “Up (You Turn Me)” is by far my most favorite tune, a big, old time, electric piano-led mover, featuring a shunky heavy beat and noodling guitar stuff in the background and Kotzen utilizing his strong falsetto. This is a love song groover of the highest order – damn great stuff! “You” is a high-vocals, piano, killer torch ballad, just Kotzen’s warbly-voiced regret and piano. In anyone else’s hands this would have been self-indulgent, but Kotzen uses all his vocal prowess and guts, plus some sci-fi guitar sounds to make his point beautifully. “Time for the Payment” ends the album, starting off soft with acoustic and just Kozten’s, once again, sexy vocals. But soon we are into a Stylistics’s groove and vocals (no simple feat!) and great José Feliciano-like playing from Kotzen.

All I can say about Cannibals, in what I realize is a very long-winded review, is go out and get it and funk all night long!

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Richie Kotzen: Cannibals