Richie Kotzen returns with his 24th solo album (counting his two albums with Greg Howe, Forty Deuce, and Wilson Hawk albums) and his first since 2011’s “24 Hours”. Since “24 Hours” release, Richie has been busy writing, recording & touring with The Winery Dogs touring extensively as a solo artist and releasing his 2014 “Essential Richie Kotzen” collection. Anyone who has followed Richie’s solo output at all knows not to expect two similar albums in a row and “Cannibals” carries on that tradition of being vastly different from “24 Hours” yet retaining some similarities sonically. Also, if you are expecting a continuation of The Winery Dogs sound, well, you will have to wait for their new album that should be released before year’s end.
The album kicks off with the title track “Cannibals” & it gets off to a funky start thanks to some 70’s funk-inspired bass lines that help build the tempo til the chorus that has a funky-punk feel. An interesting mix for sure. Lyrically, it is Richie’s views on the world & how people act. This song is a uptempo start to an album that features many different sonic textures and overall a more laid back vibe. “In An Instant” brings things down a notch. Very introspective lyrically, sparse guitars and blending his Soul, R&B influences with modern production techniques give this track an interesting feel. “The Enemy” lyrically continues the introspective theme. Richie’s vocal delivery atop the piano has made the song an instant favorite. His Soul influences shine bright here and seems as if it could have been on his Wilson Hawk album with Richie Zito.
Latin percussion and keyboards kick off “Shake It Off” and quickly take this uptempo track into some funky territory. Channeling Sly Stone & James Brown vocally with Hammond B3 accents throughout. The guitars could have easily been from his 2001 album “Slow” & the notes he hits in the choruses are insane. Holy Falsetto Freddie Mercury! Another track that could have easily appeared on the Wilson Hawk album is “Come On Free”, a mid-tempo number that is uplifting lyrically and will have you tapping your toes pretty quickly. The outro is scarily reminiscent of Tag Team’s “Whoomp! (There It Is)”. Fans of King’s X will surely digg “I’m All In” as dUg Pinnick and Richie Kotzen duet on this track. Another tune with a “Slow” vibe and one of my favorite solos on this album from Richie. Hopefully this isn’t the last time these two collaborate vocally.
Fuzzy Synth runs along with Richie’s high vocals atop Billy Sheehan’s low harmony vocals start off “Stand Tall”. So far, this is my favorite track on the album between the Hammond B3, synth parts, Richie & Billy’s vocal collaboration. Was that LeBron’s evil laugh I hear towards the end? This is just a fun funky tune. This should be a live standout. “Up (You Turn Me)” mixes Richie’s Soul and R&B influences with a Gospel vibe in the choruses, all over some sweet keys.
“You” is an interesting song as it was written musically by Richie’s daughter over four years ago…..I will let him explain it from an interview I conducted with him in August, no pun intended!
“I will tell you there is one song on the record that is very special! The song is called ‘You’ & the song was written by my daughter and myself. The way this came to be, many years ago, I think she may have been 14 or 13, and she is 17 now. Years ago, she’d sit at the piano and play this piece. I kept saying “What is that? Every time you come in here, you sit down and you play that.” She said “It is something I wrote.” I said “Well, we should record it so you don’t forget it.” So, I put the mics up and we made a nice recording of it. That lived on my hard drive for probably three or four years. When I was assembling the new record, I went back into my archives and found it on my hard drive, I pulled it up & listened to it & thought “Wow! This is really cool! This needs to be written.” So, I wrote some words to it, threw a vocal down, and that is on the record. It is just piano and voice, one little interlude where I play a Theremin melody and we actually shot a music video for it this past weekend so I’m very excited about that!” stated Richie.
“Time For The Payment” features Richie on a Nylon string acoustic while pouring it all out vocally. The nylon strings give the song a really cool feel, Soul with a Flamenco vibe if you can imagine that. Eat your heart out Esteban! Overall, Richie trims away the fat with this album. It is one of his more “mellow” releases, focused more on the lyrics and vocal delivery. This album would be a good way to introduce people who digg more of Adult Contemporary vibe to their music while Richie’s fan who digg his “Wave Of Emotion”, “Slow” and “Wilson Hawk” albums are surely rejoicing! After The Winery Dogs, releasing an album like “Cannibals” which is so-far-removed from the Hard Rock sound of The Winery Dogs is one of the reasons why Richie Kotzen is my favorite singer, songwriter and musician. You never know what to expect from album-to-album but you know it will be quality.
Released January 8, 2015
02. In An Instant
03. The Enemy
04. Shake It Off
05. Come On Free
06. I’m All In*
07. Stand Tall**
08. Up (You Turn Me)
10. Time For The Payment
All Songs Written, Arranged, Performed, and Produced by Richie Kotzen except where noted
* = duet with dUg Pinnick of King’s X
** = Low Harmony Vocals provided by Billy Sheehan
*** = Music written & Piano played by August Eve Kotzen
Richie Kotzen – Cannibals (Music Video)
Richie Kotzen – You (Music Video)
Official Richie Kotzen Website
Purchase “Cannibals” MP3 Album at Amazon:
“Cannibals” CD from CDBaby:
Click here for US CD
“Cannibals” from CD Japan with bonus DVD. Ships January 28th!
Click here for Japanese CD w/ bonus DVD