Brian Stoltz has produced a remarkable disc in "Starving Buddha." Stoltz has poured years of experience, an impeccable apprenticeship and a multitude of influences into his debut solo recording. A native of New Orleans, Stoltz spent many years as guitarist with The Neville Brothers band. His playing credits also include the likes of Dr. John, Edie Brickell and Bob Dylan. Stoltz is also a long time disciple of the Himalayan master Sri Swami Rama and undertook a long journey to India shortly before Swami Rama left his body. This journey provided Stoltz with eastern spiritual and musical inspirations. Consequently this disc is a mix of blues-derived cajun funk guitar rock with raga and spiritual-political overtones. Credit must also go to Stoltz's production for holding back the guitar level. He avoided the temptation to make this a guitarist's record. Instead the focus is on his original lyrics with multi-tracked guitar embellishments in the background. Tracks like "Our own Tears" and "What is Real" are heavy with cajun funk with the latter's outro featuring Indian percussion. "This Old World" is the closest to a contemporary blues and features Hendrix-ey guitar layers.
"Seraphina" is the tale of a modern-day New Orleans witch queen while "Take Your Heart Away" is a journey into the lives of another New Orleans couple over backward guitar lines.
"Starving Buddha" is almost entirely Stoltz's work. He wrote and produced all eleven tracks and provided vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards and drum programming. Only on a couple of tracks do additional musicians provide percussion and piano.
While not being 100% easily recognizable blues this is still a rewarding disc. Laissez les bons temps roulez!
This review is copyright © 2000 by David Coffin, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.
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