Love & Money (2015)

Love and Money
Audio CD Label: Connor Ray Music ASIN: B01AXLK1L8Love & Money


Darkness. The human psyche has many compartments. The dark area we can fall into may spur creativity or push us deeper into the abyss. Truman Capote was never the same after writing In Cold Blood. His relationship with the criminals he wrote about pushed him to create one of the greatest pieces of fiction ever produced but then he fell from that pinnacle of success into a hell of drugs and depression.The Greek hero and demi-God Achilles is a poster child of the darkness of human psyche. He becomes incensed when Hector kills his friend Patroclus. When he finally battles and kills Hector, he drags his body behind a chariot in revenge and mauls his dead body.We all know the dark side of our own selves. Most of us obviously do not go to the extremes I described. We work out the darkness and shadows of ill feelings in other ways, and in this new CD we have Bobby Messano doing just that. What I see in him is more in line with the Phoenix rising from the ashes, succeeding in the many faces of his adversity and rising to produce his finest album to date.This new album is darker than any of his other work, but it is not depressing nor is it filled with whining. It travels a road of intense feelings that range all the way from mild annoyance to outward hostility; it travels to some truly dark places. It also shows us where Bobby’s blues are rooted. Sure, he has been a rocker with big 1980’s hair and he wields an axe with a big, rocking flair. But his music is also blues and pays homage to the days when the blues birthed rock in both England and America. The music we have here blends those feelings and blues with rock to give us some truly outstanding songs to savor.Why is this album the darkest of Messano’s efforts thus far? I could mince words, but the reality is that Bobby’s life has given him challenges to face that most of us have not had to deal with. Familial issues, professional challenges and financial burdens have perhaps tainted the music he has made for us in this album, but it is tainted in a good way. The good news is that the Bobby we all know and love is still Bobby. He deals with the negativity and his problems in his music; his attitude and approach towards his day to day life remain the same. With this album we hear his passion and soul and their reaction to the things that have happened to him. The album serves as his therapy couch and by listening to it we are in effect serving as his analysts. The songs are dark but filled with the passion and soul of this man. He holds back nothing, leaving everything out there for us to hear. We are not being welcomed to a small town in Virginia or to be told why Bobby doesn’t sing the blues anymore; no, we are being invited into a deeper place where the title track tells of our obsession with “Love and Money.” The love Bobby talks about here is not the lasting sort but one that is used for gains and material things. A sad commentary perhaps is being played out while he and the band really nail this song. It’s got a mean, boogie sort of groove and it is driven by Messano on his guitar and Freddie Gasparini on the organ. The groove is laid down by the back-line of Suavek Zaniesienko on bass and Dave Hollingsworth on drums, perhaps the tightest and coolest back-line he’s toured and played with.Bobby laments, “April Showers don’t bring no flowers when the rain is mixed with snow.” In “April Showers” we hear of his trials and tribulations where Bobby tells us he cannot make everyone happy all the time. For a big, blues rocker, this is minimalistic sound with acoustic guitar in the forefront while the rest of the band is more subdued in support. But then Messano then switches things up with some stinging electric guitar after a nice piano solo by Gasparini and we wind our way for a big finish. “Seasons” also builds from a simpler acoustic guitar to a big, momentous sound. Messano is masterful in his approach to tunes like these.Bobby tells us of the demands placed on him in “Everything is Gonna Be Alright.” It also speaks to us of the hope of success that helps us cope when we suffer with adversity. The song verges on country music with its’ opening fiddle work, but Messano remains grounded in blues and rock in this tasteful ballad. As a stark contrast, he also gives us the instrumental “Boddentown,” a Latin-infused samba with some spectacular guitar work. Messano has layered on the guitars here to great effect; the sound of Messano’s guitar is more of the style of Carlos Montoya or Al Di Meola than rockers like Carlos Santana or Eric Clapton.Messano takes us back to Steve Winwood and Blind Faith with “Had To Cry Today.” Guitar and organ blend well for Messano and Gasparini (as they did for Clapton and Winwood) and they and the band give it their all. Bobby’s vocal range remains stratospheric as he winds his way sweetly through this classic blues rock cut. Even with this Winwood song the tact Messano takes with the songs remains one with darker lyrical intent.“Welcome to My Failed Career” contrasts the “success” of limos and Gucci bags with the starker realities of Messano’s life and what makes his blues real and authentic. A deep, bluesy cut with a little funk from Bobby’s guitar and Freddy’s organ make this a very enjoyable slow tempo tune. Bobby and the band completely funk things up for us in “What I Got.” The theme remains dark, lamenting over no money, no car, no house, no girl, etc., etc., but stating that it’s his love that keeps him going we find hope in the song. Some fine organ and guitar work here make for a really sweet sound, and Dave and Suavek also give us a deep groove to swing to.“Hard World” is a big, rolling blues rocker while “Rollin’ On” is a mid tempo blues rocker. One hears the influences of Bobby’s early rock career blended with the bluesy approach of his latter career from these past two decades. Bobby’s fans will eat these songs up and newcomers to his music will see where he’s come from and what he has to offer to the music world.I love this album. Messano shows us more edge than ever before. His live shows always have shown that side of him and I think that this studio album captures that edge better than any prior ones. Perhaps by his songs dealing directly with the demons in his life, it has caused that edge to come out in full force. Perhaps it is just the maturity and drive of a man who is intent on making his best album ever. Whatever it is, this is Messano at his best. That says a lot because Bobby takes his music more seriously than anyone I’ve ever met.