Monday, May 6, 2013

Album Review: Joe Satriani - Unstoppable Momentum

A bit of backstory: ever since I actually knew what a guitar was and what good guitar playing truly is, I had a soft spot for Joe Satriani. Sure, there are more technically talented players out there (Tosin Abasi of Animals as Leaders, for example), and there are better composers as well (don't really have an example there), but Satch is still, hands down, my favorite guitarist. He combines a great collection of playing and writing ability, among a wide variety of genres and playing styles, and has FUN doing it. Go ahead, tell me he isn't enjoying Chickenfoot and G3 and whatnot.

When I heard Satch was having a new album come out, I was jumping up and down with excitement. So much excitement, in fact, that I got my copy, erm, imported from Australia (for the first time in... ever, Australia got something released there first!) and gave it a few listens while "studying" for my final exams.

studying actually meant "doing an internet". Take that as you will.

It's hard to write a review for this album. It sounds good, great even, but it's not really any new direction for Joe. He's a great player, and there are some subtle differences from his last album, Black Swans & Wormhole Wizards, but overall it's pretty much more of the same. Most of the songs in Unstoppable Momentum are a bit more upbeat and "happy" than 2010's release, which is more fun to listen to, so I will give it that. Your usual "Satch screams", whammy bar wankery, and effects pedal goodness are all there, and it all still sounds very refined and clean in execution, which is good and all. But it's just missing that feel of a new album.

That said, I do have some tracks that I did like more than others. "Lies and Truths" employs some good shredding and overall is a bit of a mysterious sound. "Shine on American Dreamer" almost comes off as a bit of a love song to me, which is hard to do without words, so that earns props. "Jumpin' In" is easily my favorite. Overall it employs some very bouncy, catchy riffs that I can really get into, and I can just see him on stage playing it and having a good time. And then there's "A Celebration", which is good for what the name implies.

Despite it being somewhat "average" Joe (does that count as a pun or a cliche?), that's not a bad thing by any means so I won't let it bring it down. I'll give it a 9/10. I wholeheartedly recommend this to someone who likes Satriani and the other guitar virtuosos. If you don't really have an opinion on Satch, give it a whirl. It's great background music for doing work. You'd be surprised at how much more you get done listening to something without words in comparison to something with them.

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