On Another 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 God…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 phrases.

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.

"Devil 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.

"FT2" 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.

Bobby Manriquez 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.

-Larry Belanger