The Following Review By Jere at Shipwreck Island Studios.com – March 28, 2005
Track by track breakdown:
1. Don’t Lose Heart – The first song of an album is always the one that pretty much sets the tone to the rest of the album and on Don’t Lose Heart there is just hook-laden and the message everyone will relate to. An exceptional album opener however the CD only gets better with every track.
2. Words Could Never Say – Structure wise this song has some elements of what could of been written by Gary Cherone and Nuno Bettencourt of Extreme and I mean that as a compliment since it is a moving love song. Nice to see Mr. Valdes showing that he can hold his own and deliver a track with a great chorus and powerful harmony vocals.
3. Hypnotized – Track number three is a acoustic version from the third track from Robert Valdes’ previous solo album: Out Of The Shadows and even though the electric version had such power and versatility I think the acoustic outing adds a whole new dimension to the song, the transformation from full blown rocker to acoustic works on so many levels here and its just amazing to hear it work perfectly.
4. The Girl I Dream About – The interpretation of this track is a sincere/heartfelt message to Robert’s family whom from the lyrics listeners can tell that Robert devotes a majority of his time to. Its nice to see that he is a family man and even though is a striving musician and has another successful business ventures (RV productions) he is there for them and this is the perfect testimony to that.
5. Face – Here is another example of acoustics done the right way as Face is a very up-tempo track and Valdes has the skill of harmonizing down like no one else. Great songwriting, great passion, and another great highlight for Acoustic Journey.
6. On This Day – A month or so back through communications between myself and Rob he had hinted on a full on ballad with the inclusion of drums well here it is and this is pure musicianship at its finest as it features one of the best choruses that I’ve heard in quite a while. The track builds and builds and builds and by the time its in full effect it is just a monster song that would fit perfectly at a wedding.
7. Miles Away – Quite possibly one of the most compelling ballads written Winger’s Miles Away is a work of genius that when first heard brings out a mixture of feelings. So the original in my book can’t be touched but I am just floored with this rendition of it Mr. Valdes has once pulled out all the stops and gives listeners quite the earful, simply amazing.
8. He Lit My Way – Without doubt one of the most inspiring songs throughout the whole album with a few religious references which shows in times of doubt or no self reliance there is always hope when needed.
9. Spanish Nights (Instrumental) – Well as the title suggests this is both an instrumental but also features a Spanish flavor that for the next couple minutes is builds on itself with beautiful melodies and marvelous playing on the part of Robert Valdes, the man is one of the most under-rated guitarists in the world today but at the same time one of the most technically proficient.
10. Lonely Man – Right from the first chord the track features a haunting aura and before the first note is sang there is a whistling intro however once things evolve the song takes on a stronger value with a powerful electric solo placed seamlessly in the middle. Valdes has really matured as a writer and the emotion he expresses in his voice will truly give listeners a deeper sense behind the meaning of the track.
11. Winds Of Change – Finds Robert paying homage to one of the biggest influences in his career as a musician: Dave Meniketti of Y&T and it is simply a fitting tribute as the raw attitude gives way to a stellar performance. Everything from the delivery to soulful passion is there and gives this a fresh aspect to the album as a whole.
12. Acoustic Journey (Find My Way) – The title track concludes the journey and although this song is a bit lighter sounding then others it still has an energy which brings about a profound impact as I find that after numerous listens it really starts to sink in.
Out of all the musicians out there today I have not seen one work as hard working as Robert Valdes to get to where he is today. This man has basically worked his ass off to earn respect in a cut-throat business in which mainstream and melodic rock don’t walk hand in hand as they once did 15 to 20 years ago. Acoustic Journey seemed to be a grueling task for Robert (more then a year in the making) to record and release but he stuck in there and fashioned an album that from beginning to end produces some of the most pure musicianship out there.
Like before this release sees Valdes releasing it himself as well as once again showing off his talent recording a majority of it by himself (vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, bass, and being producer) but like before all the magic is still there, this guy has somehow managed to capture lightning in a bottle making this album like a big budget release but then again even albums out there now of days with a huge amount of $$$ don’t have the quality and emotion that this one has.
+ Transformation: Robert Valdes has always been a rocker and on his 2003 release: Out Of The Shadows found him meshing his love of melodic hard rock with his piercing vocals. Now in 2005 we see Rob reinventing himself as his vocals are not as dominant as before but then again I think this is one of his best vocal performances to date with the emotion in his voice just being a main factor in the strength of this CD.
+ A variety of material, something for everyone: From Don’t Lose Heart to Acoustic Journey (Find My Way) the collection of songs on this album are well placed. Even the covers are done with class and I think any fan of good music will enjoy listening to this release and its easy on the ears with the whole disc bringing about a relaxed mood.
– Miss the drums: Just a little observation nothing that changed my initial thoughts on the album but with drums On This Day its just nice to see drums help provide the back beat so other then that no major problems.
Despite what some may say the unplugged craze remains a popular one in music world today. Seems that whenever artists pay a radio station a visit they break out the acoustics and perform live. In fact many musicians will come up with ideas for tracks, sitting down with a couple acoustic guitars and working a general structure of a song. Bands like Bon Jovi, Tesla, and Firehouse are the godfathers of this trend and they fully embraced this level of musicianship which helped redefine the sound of these bands bringing more depth and maturity to the material they’ve recorded.
The latest work from Robert Valdes sees him grow even more as a inventive singer/songwriter/guitarist. Acoustic Journey is not just another album where an artist tries his hand at unplugged, this is a journey into the mind, body, and soul of Valdes and he has in fact given fans a quality release while at the same time adding a completely new aspect to his career. Acoustic can be a daunting venture with it all coming down to having solid material backed up by emotion and the most important element mixing influential, not overpowering, vocals with those raw acoustic guitars. Robert has done the near impossible showing how he is a masterful storyteller and for 12 tracks he delivers a riveting performance… Quite simply acoustics has never sounded better.
Robert Valdes: Acoustic Journey receives 5/5 – The best release to date from the multitalented Robert Valdes. Not to be passed up