RICHIE KOTZEN – 24 Hours (2011)
Richie Kotzen made his name as a guitar phenom at a very early age in his career, recording and playing with a variety of different artists, ranging from Hard Rock bands like Poison and Mr. Big to Jazz/Fusion groups like Vertu featuring legends Stanley Clarke and Lenny White.
But essentially, he has built an incredibly successful solo career continuously distinguishing himself from the shredder Shrapnel Records stable from which he emerged in the late ’80s.
He’s moved on beyond the note fests, arpeggio calisthenics, and fusion workouts to embrace an earthier, soulful, more Classic Rock side of his personality for some time now.
On his new album “24 Hours”, Kotzen gets deeper into his old school soul explorations. He has of course visited this territory before on past records, but on this new release, he managed to create a cohesive musical environment where heavy-funk, shred and blue-eyed soul co-exist in harmony.
This album also shows his evolution as singer/songwriter and as multi-instrumentalist aswell (Richie plays all the instruments) and even have reached a new level as guitarist, playing most of his solos without a guitar pick, just with his amazing fingers.
“24 Hours” magically illustrates how one can get really deep into the hard-funk without sacrificing power chords and an inspired, yet over the top (finger picked) shred solo.
It sounds like a one-man recording project, but it has none of the faults – as in a disparity in proficiency when switching to other instruments.
“Bad Situation”, “Get It On”, and the title track come right out of the classic heavy funk rulebook but with a twist. All are full of hypnotic, bitter-sweet hooks showing Kotzen making a new emphasis on diversifying his songwriting. He merges terrific guitar parts with old school piano sounds, while his soulful vocal stylings truly serve the stories.
On “OMG (What’s Your Name?)” he is also mining more classic rock styles than ever before with an eerily quirky synth solo, an inspired pay-off to ’70s prog / hard rock.
Check his nuanced, surprisingly versatile singing on “Help Me” and you will notice his evolution as performer, together with the jumpin’ guitars and the pocket funk-rock drumming.
Add to this the high-voltage, stratosphere-bound guitar solo on “Love Is Bind” which tips the hat both to Hendrix and to the 60s West Coast psychedelia. He gets help from Jerry Cantrell (Alice In Chains) and Dogstar’s Bret Domrose on vocals here.
But it’s not all about the funk. Kotzen gets bluesy on the acoustic nylon stringed ballad “Twist of Fate”. It’s a great vocal performance with an epic arrangement as he slowly builds the track, adding electric guitar, piano, and drums along the way.
Kotzen’s daughter August lends her chops on Wurlitzer piano and background vocals on the rocking “Stop Me”. A very catchy song (as all on the album are); catchy chorus, nice vocal backing all complimented by the customary finger frenzy during the guitar licks.
“Tell Me That It’s Easy” is a stylistic departure for Richie. He dips into his more soulful roots on this track with exquisite vocals (supported again by August) and also finds room for some of the tastiest guitar playing he’s ever recorded. It’s one of the highlights of the record and shows his range as a composer, producer and guitarist.
The album closes with “Twist Of Fate” with its stripped down, bluesy introduction over acoustic guitar, building to almost anthemic heights.
“24 Hours” is the best Kotzen solo album ever, and one of the best Classic Rock albums recently released.
We already know he’s a badass on guitar and vocals, but as a producer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, he just keeps getting better and better.
It all works. It all grooves. The production is clean, solid and organic. Catchy, hook laden, great musicianship; it’s all there in shed loads.
Containing a diverse collection of great tunes soaked in emotion, “24 Hours” is a master class in how to write and deliver quality music.
01 – 24 Hours
02 – Help Me
03 – OMG (What’s Your Name?)
04 – Get It On
05 – Love Is Blind
06 – Stop Me
07 – Bad Situation
08 – I Don’t Know Why
09 – Tell Me That It’s Easy
10 – Twist Of Fate
Richie Kotzen – Vocals, All instruments
August Kotzen – Piano
Jerry Cantrell, Bret Domrose, August Kotzen – Backing Vocals
BUY IT !