West coast bluesman Coco Montoya has been known as a major guitar threat for years -- we are, after all, talking about a guy who learned at the feet of Albert Collins -- but after all this time spent focused on pursuing the blues fret-burner path, Montoya shows a new side of himself on I Want It All Back. There's plenty of piercingly lyrical guitar work, of course, but it's Montoya the singer who emerges as the dominant figure in these sessions, leaning into a smooth, soulful lilt that's not a million miles away from the sound of Los Lobos lead vocalist David Hidalgo. Not only that, Montoya is letting this cool-crooning approach lead him down different musical avenues, as well. I Want It All Back is ultimately as much a soul album as it is a blues offering, mixing original R&B-based tunes with bluesy versions of the Smokey Robinson-penned "The One Who Really Loves You" and the old Marvelettes tune "Forever," among others. It's on the barroom shuffle of the Buster Brown blues standard "Fannie Mae" and the funky syncopation of Montoya's own "Don't Go Makin' Plans" that the Montoya you know from years past makes his presence known most obviously, but whether or not you need reminding of his straight-up blues prowess, he manages to move easily between blues and R&B here. Of course, it doesn't hurt that he's surrounded by some heavy company. The album is co-produced by none other than Keb' Mo', who also contributes rhythm guitar throughout, and everyone from blues harmonica ace Rod Piazza to Tom Petty drummer Stephen Ferrone turns up in support of Montoya's big shift here. If you're a blues purist who demands a straight 12-bar I-IV-V with a shuffle beat on every tune, you'll likely be put off by I Want It All Back, but if you're open to a little R&B in your blues, you're probably ready for Montoya's new groove.
AllMusic Review by James Allen