Review by Sea Of Tranquility

By combining his enthusiasm for arena-style hard rock and acoustic guitars, California-based multi-instrumentalist Robert Valdes set out to make a relevant, full-blown acoustic record that explores his roots and treads new musical terrain. The result is Acoustic Journey, an aptly titled collection of 12 songs that follows 2003’s Out of the Shadows – an album fueled by screaming guitars, snappy commercial beats and an unbelievably far-reaching voice.

A veteran performer who got his start in a Kiss tribute band as a kid, Valdes handles all musical duties on Acoustic Journey, including lead, rhythm and bass guitars and lead and background vocals – an incredible feat, considering the huge choruses that sometimes sound like their being sung by choirs. You won’t be able to get “Don’t Lose Heart” out of your head for days, and “Acoustic Journey (Find My Way Back Home)” is a haunting closer that showcases Valdes’ gritty rock voice. Who cares if he covers Winger (this guy’s version of “Miles Away” is rawer and more vulnerable than the original) and Warrant (Valdes turns the obscure “Face” into a memorable exploration of lost love). Even “Hypnotized,” a song Valdes gave the overblown power-ballad treatment on Out of the Shadows, sounds more contemporary and real in its original stripped-down version. The only songs here that don’t work quite as well as the others are the ones Valdes admits in the detailed liner notes are “corny”: “The Girl I Dream About” dates back to when he met his wife and revolves around a simple melody, and the sweet “On This Day” is a self-proclaimed “wedding song.” Some listeners (Neal Morse detractors, most likely) will no doubt decry the overtly Christian “He Lit My Way” as too preachy – to which Valdes responds thusly in the liner notes: “I make a conscious effort not to mix religion and politics in my business affairs. When it comes to my music, sometimes I cross those lines.”

While hardcore prog and metal fans might find Acoustic Journey too soft and mainstream, non-discriminating listeners who simply enjoy decent music should check out Valdes’ web site and click on a medley of songs from the album. The man is a solid guitarist who can still shred on an acoustic, and his music is so intoxicating that you won’t even miss the drums.

Track Listing:
1) Don’t Lose Heart
2) Words Could Never Say
3) Hypnotized
4) The Girl I Dream About
5) Face
6) On This Day
7) Miles Away
8) He Lit My Way
9) Spanish Nights
10) Lonely Man
11) Winds of Change
12) Acoustic Journey (Find My Way)

Added: April 28th 2005
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Official Robert Valdes Web Site
Hits: 1234
Language: english