Los Angeles, and Hollywood in particular, is heavily saturated with artists and musicians carving a niche for themselves. Of the many electric guitarists that call the greater L.A. area home, it's more difficult than not to find one that has not in some way been influenced by giants like Jimi Hendrix
. Few, however, try to make a musician's immediately recognizable style their own by emulating that artist's sound and repertoire and from that point building their own artistic identity. This is precisely what Hollywood based guitarist Saul Losada seems to be doing with his album, Energy
, which came out early this year.
It's a risky approach that often garners criticism, but in Losada's case it pays off on several tracks. This is especially evident on originals that are heavily influenced by his heroes but that reveal his emotive playing style, the opener "Morning" being an good example. Played heavily in Jeff Beck
's style, using sounds similar to those the legendary guitarist explored in his popular live album Live at Ronnie Scott's
, Losada is able to use the space effectively and play some compelling lines. Similarly, his take on "The Thrill Is Gone" is a respectable take on the classic blues song made famous by the one and only B.B. King
On other tracks, like "The Green River," the original composition provides him the space to interact with his bandmates and create a sound that is uniquely their own. The closer, "Fasten Your Seatbelt," similarly stands out, in more ways than one. A far cry from every other track on the record, it contains varying moods of guitar playing alongside elements of electronica and presents the listener with another element of Losada's style, one that was hardly explored on the record.
There is a fine line between paying homage and simple emulation, however, and Losada sometimes seems to straddle it. His take on Hendrix's classic "Bold as Love" does little to innovate on the original; the arrangement remains the same and Losada, while he does a fine job of getting the right sounds and stylistic techniques, doesn't quite reach the heights that Jimi did on the original. In all fairness, there are few that could. Similarly, the title track "Energy" is another composition bringing Beck to mind, but this one falls short of the mark in large part due to the accompaniment. The choices made by the keyboardist in terms of chord voicings leave much to be desired. The bassist and drummer deserve some recognition, though. They carry the track.