Richie Kotzen

Acoustic Cuts

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To the heavy metal and hard rock masses, Richie Kotzen is probably best known as the six-string-shredding "hired gun" for such pop-metal outfits as Poison and Mr. Big. But before landing gigs with those two already-established outfits, Kotzen was a solo artist -- issuing releases via the Shrapnel label, and landing quite a bit of coverage in guitar magazines at the time. On his 2005 solo outing Acoustic Cuts, Kotzen decided to switch gears, as he traded his trusty electric instrument for an acoustic. It's understandable to assume that the results on Acoustic Cuts will reflect when past pop metallists attempted to show their sensitive side via acoustic-based power ballads. Kotzen's acoustic detour proves to be a pleasant surprise, however, as the material reflects classic rock rather than those painful, syrupy acoustic ballads of the late '80s. In fact, on such standouts as "What Is," "I Would," and "Don't Wanna Lie," Kotzen's lyrics and bluesy vocals bring to mind Gregg Allman. Admittedly though, since the album is comprised entirely acoustic guitar and voice, there isn't a whole lot of musical variation here. Still, Acoustic Cuts is sure to surprise those who have Kotzen pegged as a one-trick pony because of his early solo releases.

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