May 13, 2019 Paul Gilbert – Behold Electric Guitar (Album Review)
The guitar world, which is populated by countless six-or-more-string virtuosos, would be incomplete without Paul Gilbert in it. Born on November 6, 1966, in Carbondale, Illinois, United States, he is certainly up there with other instrumental-oriented, solo guitarist-songwriters whom include Yngwie Malmsteen (“God of War”), Steve Vai (“Velorum”), Joe Satriani (“Unstoppable Momentum”), and Eric Johnson (“Soul Surprise”).
Well-known for being the guitarist of Racer X and, more significantly, Mr. Big, starting in the late 1990s, Gilbert has become more recognized as a solo artist. Building a résumé with 14 studio albums to his credit – from 1998’s King of Clubs to 2016’s I Can Destroy – the master shredder is back, set to unleash yet another powerhouse of an album.
Titled Behold Electric Guitar, Gilbert’s fifteenth opus is slated for release on Friday, May 17th, 2019 through Music Theories Recordings / Mascot Label Group. Bringing on legendary Producer/Engineer John Cuniberti, who is well known for his work with Joe Satriani, Behold Electric Guitar is markedly a change of pace and style compared with its hard-rockin’ predecessor, 2016’s I Can Destroy. In fact, it is more akin to the melodic and playful character of Gilbert’s early solo releases.
Working with Brian Foxworth (drums) and Asher Fulero (keyboards), as well as New Orleans’ Roland Guerin (bass), the album starts with the Southern jazzy excursion of the seven-minute piano-guitar assault of “Havin’ It.” It is then followed by the soulful and sensuous groove and grate of “I Own a Building.” A bit funky and certainly progressive, “Everywhere that Mary Went” shifts the mood to a higher gear, displaying Gilbert’s sheen, precision, and dexterity.
The breakneck, bullet-speed Metal rocker “Love Is the Saddest Thing” is an album highlight; it harks to Gilbert’s youthful and urgent vibes seen and heard in Mr. Big’s debut of 1989 (“Addicted to That Rush”). Following in the same virtuosic yet tuneful attack is the polished and pristine “Sir, You Need to Calm Down.” Then there is the rustic and melodramatic narrative of “Let the Battery Die,” which is definitely another future instrumental classic.
The mid-album track, “Blues for Rabbit,” is what it says it is – a bluesy, rockin’ and rollin’ stomper. After this frolic in the woods, Gilbert then takes the listener for a sweet, soft ride into the dreamy lullaby of “Every Snare Drum.” Just as the listener is about to fall into the magical hole to dreamland, the master shredder launches into another slinky, Blues Rock track – “A Snake Just Bit My Toe.” Then, nearing the end of the album, Gilbert turns poppy and light with the catchy and easy-listening predisposition of “I Love My Lawnmower.” The penultimate track, the partly narrated piece “A Herd of Turtles” is a seeming paradox – funky, playful, jazzy, loungy, bluesy – serving as a prelude to the album closer, the savvy Blues guitar jammer “Things Can Walk to You.”
In Enough words, Behold Electric Guitar showcases once again Gilbert’s ability to combine technicality and melody in a flawless and shining yet subtle and uncontrived moment. That is why Cryptic Rock gives it 4 out of 5 stars.