Another in a series of undiluted blues-rock offerings from guitarist Walter Trout, Relentless, his 11th disc since 1990, doesn't offer any surprises. Released in conjunction with a DVD, the album was recorded live in the Netherlands club The Paradiso on a single day with little post-production sweetening or audience intervention. This results in a successful balance between sonics and concert sparks. For those who relish his by now standard brand of sturdy, guitar-heavy, Stevie Ray Vaughan-inspired music, Trout is in fine fret-shredding form here. But fans who'd like to see Trout swim in some new waters will find little of that on this outing. His music succeeds best live, where the sweat and intensity overrides lackluster, by-the-numbers Vaughan shuffles such as "Talk to Ya," a tune as ordinary as its title. Trout's gruff, everyman voice is acceptable, but it's difficult to do much with the "I had a hard childhood" lyrics of "Collingswood." Although it's too bad he's had a challenging upbringing, the heavy-handed approach makes you wish he'd hired a lyricist to express it more poetically. Interestingly, one of the album's best tracks is the gospel-infused ballad "Cry if You Want To," a beautiful melody reminiscent of the Rolling Stones' "Fool to Cry" where the remarkably succinct guitar solo supports the song instead of vice versa. "Lonely Tonight" is a rare solo acoustic track where Trout furiously bangs his unplugged guitar, but once again the tune is little more than a skeleton of a song. Then it's back to the same old, with the Steppenwolf-styled boogie of "Helpin' Hand," another in a series of excuses for Trout to pull out his meaty lead guitar licks. With his whiskey-soaked singing, hot strings, and fiery soloing, a little of this goes a long way, and 73 minutes is too much for all but the most relentless fans.
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AllMusic Review by Hal Horowitz