a wife will miss her husband's face
curse her race for their disgrace
As they flew away up high
tears fell from the sky
It rained and it rained
and it rained and it rained
One Word Review: Unsung
This is one album that has blown me away. I got it as a birthday present back in 2004 and soon discovered it to be very special. I am I is the debut of Nuclear Valdez and man, what a debut!
The band is based in Miami but the members have different ethnic backgrounds. As far as I know Froilan Sosa (Vocals/Guitar) was born in the Dominican Republic, while Jorge Barcala (Lead Guitar), Juan Diaz (Bass) and Robert Slade LeMont (Drums) are all of Cuban descent. Their Latin background could be a factor in how these four guys have created something that is instantly recognizable and very much their own style.
The music can be described as melodic rock played with real passion and a certain flavor, that I can't pinpoint. The band members sound really comfortable playing together and this brings the songs a rhythm and groove that I don't hear every day. Fro Sosa's vocals are truly unique, filled with soul and passion and able to convey a wide range of emotions. The band has managed to fill an album with a few good and many fantastic songs. Every song is catchy and has the power to stick in your head like glue. For the first 5 listens only Summer and Hope stood out, but suddenly the album opened up in a big way and every song was borderline wonderful. There is every possibility that you will fall completely in love with this band.
The music is uplifting, but reading the lyrics shows a different side of the band. Songs about loss and regret fill the album, and the lyrics are written in such a convincing way, that they capture you and make you think and feel something. They are a contrasting element to the music and it is a genius combination that works magic in several songs.
The opener Summer is an uptempo rocker, which will get you instantly hooked. There is an unbound sadness in Sosa's vocals as he sings about the Cuban revolution and how it affected the people. The melody line in the chorus is amazing and this is one song you will be humming for months.
Hope is a song that just rips out your heart and hangs it out in the rain to dry. With highly relatable lyrics and an infectious chorus there is something timeless about this song. The guitar solo by Jorge Barcala is played with a lot of feeling and this is true for all his work on the album.
Trace the thunder is another catchy song with an uplifting guitar solo, which gives off the urge to grab it and fly away. It is a good example of how the upbeat music completely contradicts the lyrics. Here is a song that has everything from joy to despair.
If I knew then was at first listen a typical sappy "lost love" ballad with a simple rhythm, but digging deeper, I found many layers and the song evolved into a personal favorite. One brilliant thing is how the guitar slowly intrudes in the verse sections, until it finally lets go and starts bleeding in the last verse. It gives the whole song a sense of pent-up emotion and fits perfectly with the lyrics.
"Life keeps running through my veins
But through my heart
There runs a midnight train
With just one soul"
Unsung Hero is a dedication to Lenny Bruce, a largely misunderstood and disrespected American stand-up comedian, who was far ahead of this time. He died of an overdose in 1966. The song shows real dedication and works very well. Strength has an intriguing guitar melody and the chorus is impossible not to sing along to. The slow bluesy part works very well too. Another moving song.
Eve and Apache are the songs I find "least good" on the album. Though Eve has a nice groove, it doesn't hold enough variation to get it to the same level as the rest.
The rest of the album gets back on track and especially Run through the fields has a sweet melody, which is shattered by the harsh reality of the lyrics. But no more words about the songs, they should really be experienced.
Even today the music is fresh and has an incredible warmth to it, that just screams passion. As you can read "I am I" comes highly recommended. There is more to this band than meets the ear.
Nuclear Valdez have been inactive for a number of years after the release of their third album in 2002, “In a Minute All Could Change” (highly recommended as well), but a few years ago, I got word that the band had gotten back together and played a reunion show. They have a Facebook page here.
Written By Steen
Online: Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 8, 2012 - Added music video for Summer