He's funky, he's streetwise, and comparisons to Jimi Hendrix are inevitable. At the ripe-old age of 25, Eric Gales, the acclaimed young guitarist, is back for his third installment, That's What I Am. An eclectic roster of guest artists join Gales for this go-round. Kenny Olson (guitar) of Kid Rock fame, Michael De Lorenzo (yes, the actor from TV's New York Undercover), and DJ Kilmore and Michael Einziger (guitar) of Incubus all lend their stylings to some tracks on That's What I Am. Tack on the album's producer/engineer Geza X, whose credits include work with Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, and Meredith Brooks, and you have yourself one unique and bad-ass guitar-oriented disc. Lyrically, Gales is hip, sharp, and straightforward in telling his stories. All elements combined make for funky listening. "You Ugly," which features turntable scratching and a hip-hop vibe, best illustrates this cat's aforementioned attitude (part of the chorus goes, "Your face could stop a train"); it's one of the album's best moments. While most of the songs are gritty, in-your-face guitar-vocals tracks, a couple of numbers take on a more sentimental twist. "She Shines" is characterized by Gales' sweet and lofty vocals on the chorus and overdubs. The song's combination of funky guitar playing during the verses and breaks with Gales' harmonious vocal delivery in the choruses make for an engaging number. "Can't Go On" is another of the album's yearning love opuses. And with all these Jimi Hendrix references, Gales had to tip off his hat to the legend, which he does on a smoldering and raw version of "Foxey Lady." In a time when music sounds so much the same, Eric Gales offers up something fresh, exciting, and hip on this worthy musical collection. This type of work is sorely lacking in the music of 2001. This is a refreshing and entirely enjoyable listening experience.
AllMusic Review by Liana Jonas