As strange as it may be, the best way I can explain Richie Kotzen is that he carries a funk rock style of soulful 70s Motown Jazz Rock fusion that can only be described as a brand new yesterday. A déjà vu of new experiences. From his solo work of an amazing now 21 solo albums to joining forces with Mike Portnoy and Billy Sheehan for The Winery Dogs to this 21st solo effort that redefines the expectations of music for everyone else.
It just does.
The most amazing things he does in this release, Salting Earth, and his style in general is you remember so many things of your own past associated with a song you’re hearing for the very first time. You’re literally in a time warp to the best of 1973.
You just are.
The entire feeling of new but the same starts right off the bat with End of the Earth driving forward with a slight chant and twangy guitar getting your attention and then the vocals and bass coming in through slow progression straight to the chorus. Here they all come together in a melodic funk where you will find yourself singing along with from the very first time you hear it. You may not get the words right, probably won’t, but you already understand the meaning because you’ve been here before.
Thunder keeps the emotional grunge tone going but as usual Kotzen slows things down and you get lost in the thoughtful lyrics telling their own story.
I’ve Got You is working its way to being my favorite off this release for its simple message told in the usual creative ways, Kotzen style. You simply won’t go too many Kotzen songs before he dives onto the keyboards and takes you to yet another set of memories in My Rock. The transition into This is Life is a natural progression that continues the overall direction of the entire release in the fast to slow paces you will be living in the all too short 40 minutes you’ll be spending lost in this escape from day to day realities.
We kick back up now that Make it Easy has come across your music player and strap on the air guitar as he sets a fast tone and then dives in with his power-grunge vocals and Motown backing rearranging your memories all over again. We now are coming to the close of the first time you listen to Salting Earth and Cannon Ball sets a middle of the road tone with his trademark keyboards leading the way.
As this initial ride comes to an eventual but unfortunate end, some simple acoustic guitars and classic Kotzen closes out the journey into yesterday with Grammy and he keeps it simple and rounds out this already classic release. You see, I often look around today wondering where tomorrows classics are going to come from. Then I hear something such as this new release from Kotzen and I can say with all certainty you are listening to classics. Again. For the very first time.
If this isn’t a 10 I don’t know what is.
I was fortunate enough to catch him live on the Winery Dogs tour last year and we have the photos from that set here on Renegade Radio. If you have not seen him live yet, it’s on the must see concerts of 2017.