The Following Review By R. Scott Bolton at RoughEdge.com – April 3, 2005
I always get a bit nervous when an artist or group does something with “acoustic” in the title. I was never a big fan of the whole unplugged thing, and I think too many bands went way too far with the concept. Bombastic rock anthems like KISS’s “Rock and Roll All Nite” and Dokken’s “Into the Fire” need the loud electric guitars to sound their best.
So it was with some trepidation that I slid “Acoustic Journey,” the new CD by AOR legend Robert Valdes, into my CD player. Was this going to be yet another tired re-tread of his previous music? Would it be another failed attempt by an artist best known for one type of music trying another?
Thankfully, it was none of those things (although there is one acoustic version of a track from his previous CD and a couple of cover songs of other bands). The best description of the music found on “Acoustic Journey” is the CD’s title. Listening to the CD, one can imagine Valdes reaching out as he explores this new world and finds what works best. The songs are soulful, emotional and very personal tunes that were written and arranged to be performed acoustically. Most of the songs appear to have been written for family members. Perhaps it was this intimacy that led to the CD’s amazing ability to communicate so clearly with its audience.
I hesitate to say that Valdes is “experimenting” here because nothing on “Acoustic Journey” sounds like an experiment. “Exploring” is a much better word. Everything here is solidly written, perfectly performed and crisply produced. It’s the best kind of vanity project – the kind where the artist sets out to discover something and finds it utterly and completely. Throughout, Valdes’s guitar work is impressive, bringing to mind the crystal sound of Pink Floyd’s “Animals” (although not the quirkiness). And track #9, an instrumental entitled “Spanish Nights,” will floor you with its flamenco speed and clarity.
Inspirational, touching and – perhaps most importantly – entertaining throughout, Robert Valdes’s “Acoustic Journey” is just the kind of album you want to reach for when you need a break from the headbanging and are looking for something a little more intimate.