Method to mix a tasty band:
1 part guitarist and singer Lance Lopez
1 part bass player and producer Fabrizio Grossi
1 part drummer Kenny Aronoff
Add a pinch of well revered friends and you have Supersonic Blues Machine
“Californisoul” is the follow up to their debut “West of Flushing, South of Frisco” and brilliantly paints a picture of a road trip in the California sun with friends, family and good times. Recorded at Fabrizio’s studio in North Hollywood, California, “Californisoul” is all about the songs and the listener's journey with this album standing up as a modern day blues rock classic.
“I Am Done Missing You” immediately sets the tone for the album. Put your shades on, crack open a beer or mix a Mimosa and kick back as you’re about to be transported. Bands have fused a reggae vibe with blues rock before, but in this case it’s done with more style and restraint as to not overpower. SBM are known for having not guest players but their friends play on a few tracks with the superb Robben Ford up to the plate to bat first on “Somebody’s Fool”. If you know Robben’s playing, it will come as no surprise that his soulful string sorcery smashes it out of the park. There’s no ‘cutting heads’ soloing on this song - 2 players in Lance and Robben who complement each other brilliantly.
The uplifting message of the first single released “L.O.V.E” is clear in its lyrical content (most of the lyrics on the album were written by Fabrizio) and delivers a statement that was kindled in the Summer of Love but is equally as important today - one to spread like wildfire considering the times we live in. The Father Reverend Billy Gibbons lends his inimitable chops to “Broken Heart” with the songs groove propelling it throughout. If you hear this song driving, you’ll be turning it up and do try not to speed up as it’s infectious…
Weighing in next is the 1-2 punch of “Bad Boys” with it’s funkier edge and the roaring “Elevate” featuring the otherworldly guitarist Eric Gales. Kenny is clearly having fun playing on the former and builds into the choruses with glee, this combined with Fabrizio’s playing has “Bad Boys” swinging with the strut of a group of friends on a big night out. “Elevate” has a pronounced Hendrix and Sly Stallone influence which grabs the listener and shakes them up with the mantra to the soul with Eric’s playing sprinkling further magic dust that sparkles.
Producer and bass player Fabrizio sums up “The One” perfectly: "The One is probably the most representative song of the whole California soul-attitude that is the spirit of Californisoul. I cannot hide the huge influence that artists like War and Santana had on my upbringing. The musical aspect of The One is drenched with those influences: it’s a simple blues progression, but it has a very Latin percussive groove, and its buttery-toned guitars stand and belong to the whole California dream, just like a lowrider would be well at home at the corner of Alvarado and Temple in downtown LA!".
“Hard Times” brings a darker reflective tone, yet uplifting with Lance’s vocals which are strong throughout the album. Another dear friend of SBM, extended family if you like, Steve Lukather makes an appearance providing a killer solo that intertwines with Lance’s own sublime playing in the songs climax. “Cry” beautifully continues the darker bluesier theme yet highlights the human need to let go and let out, touching upon the political situation in the USA today and the wider world.
It’s back to the funkier side of SBM in “The Stranger” with the added effect of a talkbox bringing a sense of fun to proceedings. Dynamically this song is very strong in it’s breakdowns, stabs and groove, another one to watch out for if you’re driving. The final member of the the SBM extended family lending their hand to “What’s Wrong” is Walter Trout. Walter not only plays but sings on this track and it’s clear he means every word and note. With all of the added members on this album, some think that they just show up and dial a performance in….they’d be wrong, they all mean it and give it their all.
Closing out the album is “Thank You” with it’s horn section that puts a smile on the listener's face. You’d be forgiven for thinking the album had skipped back to the beginning as “This Is Love” opens, but this is clearly an intentional way of bookending the album. It works well having taken a twisting trip throughout the soundscape and evoked scenery that winding it down in this way is a fitting end.
“Califonisoul” is a perfect follow up to their debut album. It’s fun, it’s diverse, it’s inclusive, it rocks with a swing and the family vibe that is Supersonic Blues Machine which draws you in and shines throughout. Planning a roadtrip? “Californisoul” is your must have soundtrack.
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