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Music Review - `Under the Influence` by Guy Schwartz (ca)

Guy Schwartz - Under the Influence  (click on image to watch video)

30 April 2020

 

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On Guy Schwartz's new record, Under the Influence, listeners are taken on a trip before they even drop the needle. The cover art features a wandering Schwartz, soaking up some gorgeous sunshine while standing in the midst of giant flowers. Underneath the album title, the slogan, "New Original Classic Rock From Houston," prepares fans for a wild ride across 13 new tracks.

That wild ride is much more than a fresh spin on classic rock for 2020; Under the Influence is a journey into the psyche of Schwartz as the LP shares stories of his past and lifts up some of his influences over the years. If there is one singular theme across the record, it's found in closing track "Gotta Keep the Music Alive," a bluesy, jangly, perfect-in-its-roughness song that finds Schwartz belting out, "Well I remember and it wasn't long ago / There was magic in the music, a place to let it grow." That place, at least for now, seems to be under the management of Schwartz himself.

He lets the music grow throughout Under the Influence. On "Lost in Time," Schwartz builds an atmosphere that blends the sounds of Bob Dylan's "Cold Irons Bound" with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' "Red Right Hand," making for an unforgettable four minutes. "Out of Control" finds Schwartz commanding a similar charge, though this time his guitar skills are on full display, reminiscent of the timeless work of Charlie Sexton. The highlight of Under the Influence, though, comes with the beautiful, full-band extravaganza "Two Sides of a Mountain." The range on Under the Influence is mesmerizing, and this particular song finds Schwartz and company at their best as he sings about love and life over the backdrop of a majestic mountain, with a soundtrack that will no doubt stand the test of time for decades to come.

Thirteen tracks later, the notion of "New Original Classic Rock From Houston" becomes clearer. Schwartz is firmly rooted in the unshakeable foundation that is and always has been classic rock, but he's not merely paying homage to the past; he's crafting art for this very time and moment, all with the songwriting skills of what you'd expect from the musical legacy of Houston, Texas. If Under the Influence is any indication—and I'm guessing it is—Schwartz has a few more wild rides up his sleeves, and I can't wait to join him on those journeys.
 

Music Reviewer - Chuck ArmstrongChuck Armstrong is a pastor and writer living in New York City. As a contributor to The Boot, No Depression, Consequence of Sound, Ultimate Classic Rock, and Loudwire, music has always been part of Chuck's life. Formerly a longtime radio pro, Chuck now resides in Hell's Kitchen with his family.

Read More: Chuck Armstrong - The Boot

To Read All of Chuck's Reviews, Click Here

 


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