Coco Montoya

Can't Look Back

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Coco Montoya's second album for Alligator records finds the guitarist moving away from the sound of his mentor, Albert Collins -- although there certainly are licks throughout the album clearly inspired by "the Iceman," particularly when the tempo slows down -- and toward big rock productions. This album sounds huge: The rhythm section provides a gigantic foundation, sprawling from speaker to speaker, then the keyboards and backing vocals are added, with guitars pushed to the forefront. On top of that, Montoya is demonstrating a greater inclination to soul and R&B than ever before, choosing to cover Holland-Dozier-Holland (a terrific take on "Something About You"), along with other tuneful soul tunes, and writing it that vein as well. This suits him well, since not only his full-throated vocals feel at ease with these melodies, he's turning out tasteful, melodic solos that punctuate and further the tune, instead of just being virtuosic showcases. The production may still be too big for some tastes, but look beyond that and hear what Montoya is doing with the music, and it becomes clear this is a nice step forward.

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