Shade of Blue(s), Bobby Manriquez takes the listener on a magical,
musical journey into sounds that are sometimes familiar, and at
other times are very new, exciting explorations of the art. Having
compiled and played the majority of the instruments on the album,
as well as doing vocals, is in itself an amazing feat. To pull it
all together in the fashion that this album comes across is simply
unimaginable, but one spin on the deck will make anyone a believer
and more likely a new fan of the marvelous talent found in Bobby
Manriquez. On the first track of the album, "The Boogie Man's
Comin'," the blast that strikes the listener is the use of
blues master's riffs being played with a forceful confidence. The
next thing that becomes evident is that Bobby Manriquez can sing,
and not in the gritty style of many blues singers; he has a soulful,
melodic voice that has range and depth. "Family Traditions"
features a very funky drum beat with some nice accents from the
twangy lead electric guitar. The use of effects on the vocal track
lends "Family Traditions" a hip-hop groove seldom found
linked to the blues genre. This serves well in displaying the creative
thinking that went into putting together this unique gem. "Evocation"
is a very short piece of work that seems to be calling on the Guitar
whoever that could be, perhaps Hendrix, Vaughan, or it
might just be a display of Bobby Manriquez' talent. "Another
Shade of Blue" has a solid soul groove with a Sam Cooke-esque
charisma. The balance of the song is masterfully executed with many
instrumental and vocal nuances, adding color and depth at every
turn..... a "HIT", with a beautiful, contagious melody,
harmonic vocals, and dynamics via some truly electrifying lead guitar
The intro rhythm
guitar riffs throw the listener a curve, giving the impression that
"Goin' Up" will be a Texas style blues number. This couldn't
be further from the truth. "Goin' Up" forms into a blues
tune with some rock and roll spice, along with some big band brass
masterfully blended in, but the magical appeal has to be the amazing
jazz riffs that Bobby Manriquez uses in the lead guitar solos. "Goin'
Up" is a very original, unique piece of music genius. "Smokehouse
(live)" is where Bobby Manriquez opens his magical bag of lead
guitar riffs and gives the listener a small taste of what a live
show would consist of. On the downside, the display is simply too
short at a bit under two minutes, which is just an excerpt from
a much longer piece that one may feel should have been displayed
in it's entirety.
Heart" is formed on a straight forward Rock and Roll foundation
that builds from there into a melodic piece that leaves the listener
grooving on the contagious licks, driving beat, and soulful vocals.
"Devil Heart" is a very impressive piece when one takes
into consideration that Bobby Manriquez has put this together as
a solo effort, playing all instruments, and doing vocals as well.
"d'blues" is another tantalizing tid-bit that was inserted
into the album in order to display Bobby Manriquez' smokin' lead
licks on some of the finest blues guitar work one could hope to
find, even in a minute, 51 second burst. "G-Blue (inspired)"
takes an emotional grip on the listener with some soul, via roots
blues styling. The complete package is colorfully wrapped with enticing
background vocalists and a killer lead guitar solo that will leave
the listener in awe. The soulful lyrics are perfectly showcased
by Bobby Manriquez' melodic and soulful, expressive vocal style.
is a perfect example of genre blending to the max. There are elements
of hip-hop, funk, blues, rock, and even a dash of improvisational
jazz slips into the mix. A solid, melodic groove molds this piece
into a truly memorable one. "Jump Start" at first appears
to be another tease, displaying how truly talented a guitarist Bobby
Manriquez really is. Actually, it's a lead into the next track that
works really well, because the next track comes in as a pleasant
surprise. "Jump Start" does more than adequately showcase
the talented guitar styling of Bobby Manriquez. "How We Start"
has a Texas Blues guitar screaming at top volume and grabs a hold
of the listeners, taking them on a musical adventure sure to please.
This tune is very much in the Stevie Ray Vaughan style, but Bobby
Manriquez adds his own signature style which makes for an excellent
balance. For those non-believers that thought everything that could
possibly be done with an electric guitar had been done, "B2K"
is here to show that there is still much more to come. Leaning slightly
toward the Jimi Hendrix school of psychedelic guitar works, this
tune uses accents from electric blues licks as the magnetic formula
that makes the whole song structure work so well.
is an amazing musician that has given all the people that search
CD bins in hope of finding some original and vibrant guitar-rooted
music proof that some great music can still be made. All should
be thankful that this guitarist has graced us with a gem to add
to the collection of Blues guitar albums that never sit on the shelf
long enough to gather dust.