Here again we have a disc that's not really blues at all. But restrictions are better left to the suits who attempt to categorize and control what we hear; it's a musically rich world indeed, and limiting ourselves to any one genre merely means we'd miss out on some very fine music.
Ken Valdez, originally from New Mexico, now makes his home in Minneapolis. "Every Little Lie" is his second disc, and a fine collection of heartland rock it is. Ken favours a richly textured sound, with the guitars, courtesy of Ken himself and Muscle Shoals veteran Wayne Perkins (who's worked with Leon Russell, Delbert McClinton, and the Rolling Stones(!)), very much front and centre. Additional assistance comes from Twin Cities legend Bruce McCabe on piano and Wurlitzer. Sonny Thompson handles the bass chores, while Michael Bland is anything but on drums. Credits also list Estaire Godinez on percussion and Brent Sigmeth on shakers and tambourine; normally those tasks would see the respective musicians relegated to bit player status, but Ken makes frequent and good use of both to fatten up the very full sound even further.
The songs Ken's chosen - he wrote only one and co-wrote another - all seem to have big, catchy hooks that grab with the first listen and don't let go. Sing-along choruses predominate (one can almost picture the lighters held aloft at gigs), and the music is full of both tricky changes and tasteful accents that show the band musically accomplished and well rehearsed. Ken's vocals are well seasoned for a relatively young performer (he was 25 when this disc was released) and he's blessed with a rich, deep voice, with just a hint of a gritty rasp, that conveys both power and conviction.
No, it's not blues, only approaching the genre on the gentle closer, "Overdue For The Blues," featuring just Ken and acoustic guitar, which wraps things up quite nicely. But it's a fine collection of memorable tunes played with passion and precision. True, Ken's music lacks the straightforward simplicity that gives the blues its emotional wallop; but it's more than made up for with melody and musicianship.
Not recommended to blues purists, but definitely worth a listen for anyone who's tastes range to melodic rock music.
Armored Rat Music
PO Box 4093, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87504
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