After some years stretching his boundaries, Anthony Gomes is back with "Up2Zero." Bob Putignano says it a fine return that we should all check out" Chip Eagle for Blueswax.com & Blues Revue Magazine.
Welcome Back, Mr. Gomes!
He's back, and tells us so on the rocking opening tune "Back To the Start," sending a message that, after a few sidesteps, Gomes is now focused on (for the most part) returning to his previous blues-rocking days. My first clue came from seeing Gomes at the Tremblant Blues Fest two or so years ago, where his performances were in the same vein as this fine new recording.
But Up2Zero is not all about hard-rocking blues, and it's on some of the more laid-back songs where Gomes shows his songwriting skills and feel for more affectionate moods. For example, on the slow and straight blues of "One Last Time" Gomes really digs down and asks (begs?) for that "one last kiss." Now this isn't exactly a quiet love song, but what'd you expect? Ever so slowly and tenderly, Gomes amps up his guitar (tastily) and eventually brings this solid blues song to an exploding climax. The well-written Southern-styled "Love Sweet Love" is reminiscent to what you'd expect of something the Marshall Tucker Band would have been comfortable with back in the good old days when Toy Caldwell was at the helm. I could also see Coco Montoya covering this solid song.
"Darkest Before the Dawn" is a pretty ballad that offers passionate vocals from Gomes, where he asks "keep holding on." It's beautiful and a welcome addition, with supporting background vocalists, even though it was covered on Gomes 2002 Unity album. It's pedal to the metal time with "Room 414." Gomes and company are flying low to the ground and on the prowl with dueling overdubbed guitars that possess strong blues undertones. Deeper blues, Mississippi Delta styled arise on "Voodoo Moon." It's so haunting with Gomes calling out for "the ghosts of Clarksdale." It's here where Gomes unearths his grungiest guitar work with mystical vocals, and it's a memorable keeper for sure. In similar fashion, "Last Bluesman Gone" echoes "Voodoo Moon" stylistically, but Gomes is playing solo acoustic with spiritual background vocalists as he emotionally calls out the names of Big Jack, Koko, Pinetop, Gary Moore, Big Eyes, Honeyboy, Hubert Sumlin, and others saying "they're all gone." Gomes repeats Etta James' name twice on this very heartwarming and touching track. The title track (as expected) is an upbeat rocker that includes some of the more high-spirited and rocking playing by Gomes that classically ends abruptly and smartly. The closing "N' Abandonne Pas" is a ballad sung in French.
In summary, where have you been Mr. Gomes? No matter, it's great to have you back! Up2Zero should reignite Gomes' career, and I suspect it won't be long that you'll see him performing at a bunch of festivals throughout the land. This new album is far from perfect, but if Gomes continues on this path, I would suspect that there will be further improvements. You see, Gomes is a triple-threat artist who sings soulfully, writes strong songs, and continues to improve his already great chops on guitar. Bring it on Anthony, at just thirty-seven years old, your future is bright.
Bob Putignano: www.SoundsofBlue.com