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

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

 31 March  2020



On what is apparently his 60th (!) album to date, Houston-based singer/songwriter Guy Schwartz channels some storied influences, holding true to the new album’s subtitle “New Original Classic Rock from Houston.” The references are all unmistakable —Dr. John on “Mac Said,” Jim Morrison on “Lost In Time,” Jimi Hendrix with “Far Away From Here,” more than a hint of the blues on “Stepping Stone” and “Blues Rumble,” sweeping southern rock on “Two Sides of the Mountain, and so on.  It all seems to come naturally, not surprising given the fact that he’s been plying his trade for the better part of 50 years, and that in that time, he’s dabbled in nearly every genre under the sun — from psych to soul, rock to retro, prog to punk and practically everything in-between. 


Indeed, Under the Influence allows him to indulge his fancies in a variety of ways without paying full heed to any one preference in particular. Despite the distraction of trying to guess who’s he’s attempting to emulate at any given time, the songs all stand on their own, a credit to Schwartz’s songwriting and his crack backing band. Some subjects come into sharp focus immediately —  the imprint made by early encounters as described on “Waltz Across Texas” (“He saw Ernest Tubb play at the Saint Bernard Hotel…”), the abuse of power flaunted by the current administration on “Out of Control” and the desire to keep the songs coming, courtesy of closing track “Gotta Keep the Music Alive.” 

Verve and vitality are key quotients when it comes to any genre of music, of course, and that’s the prime reason why the new album succeeds the way it does. Schwartz is indeed a survivor, but he’s also far more than that. He’s an archivist in the strictest sense, an artist who values today’s musical legacy while determined to sustain those traditions as well. With Under the Influence, he succeeds and then some.

 Lee Zimmerman


Lee Zimmerman

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