Kevin Sandbloom - Viva Los Angeles (2013)

Kevin Sandbloom
sandbloom-losangeles.jpg
Click on CD cover
to listen or purchase

Singer/songwriter and guitarist Kevin Sandbloom is an artist who has a light musical footprint. Anyone who listened to his 2009 album Under Pink and Bourbon Skies knows that the Los Angeles based artist’s music will never be called over-produced. Sandbloom remains true to form on his latest recording, Viva Los Angeles.

Sandbloom takes a less-is-more approach on Viva Los Angeles’ 11 tracks. His arrangements can be sparse to the point of being nearly nonexistent, while the listener is treated to vocals that range from raspy to falsetto and lyrics filled with rich storytelling, metaphor and vivid emotional content.

Singer/songwriter and guitarist Kevin Sandbloom is an artist who has a light musical footprint. Anyone who listened to his 2009 album Under Pink and Bourbon Skies knows that the Los Angeles based artist’s music will never be called over-produced. Sandbloom remains true to form on his latest recording, Viva Los Angeles.

Sandbloom takes a less-is-more approach on Viva Los Angeles’ 11 tracks. His arrangements can be sparse to the point of being nearly nonexistent, while the listener is treated to vocals that range from raspy to falsetto and lyrics filled with rich storytelling, metaphor and vivid emotional content.

The virtues and weaknesses of the less-is-more philosophy are displayed on this project. Sometimes less is not enough and more might just be too much. For example, “Slow Ride” is an acoustic guitar number with a folk sound. While the sparse arrangement draws attention to the song’s lyrics, “Slow Ride” could have benefitted from some additional instrumentation because the melody does not vary and the tune at times drags. The otherwise strong “Stung By Degrees” is not helped by a long instrumental and vocal segment at the end.

Sandbloom finds the proper balance most of the time. His unaccompanied guitar sets the right tone on the melancholy “Woman.” The song uses the metaphor of seasons changing from warm to cold to describe an increasingly distant romantic relationship. “A September song was all we had/The last time you looked at me with love/Now it’s January cold and I am all alone/With my memories fading on.” Sandbloom alters the pace by shifting to a spoken-word piece.

The album also features tracks in which Sandbloom is accompanied by other instruments. The bluesy cover “Strange Conversation” actually provides a platform for Sandbloom to showcase his emotive vocals as he shifts from a raspy baritone to a sweet falsetto. The Latin tinged “All Night Long” gives the artist an opportunity to showcase deft fingering on his acoustic guitar. The best track on the album is the title track, which is a funky love letter to Sandbloom's home town’s star-filled dreams and gritty reality. “Viva Los Angeles/Livin where the fools gold looks like sunshine/I couldn’t tell you I know the difference/Even your children know/This is where the hustlers go to get it/I hope you find whatever you're looking for.”

All performers place themselves in a vulnerable position whenever they release art to the public. However, acoustic performers are more exposed because they don’t use technology to augment their vocals or improve their instrumentation. In addition, fans expect artists such as Sandbloom to dismiss with the artificiality that often afflicts pop music. Viva Los Angeles shows that Sandbloom is an artist who has the vocal, songwriting and instrumental chops to handle those expectations. Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 

 
Choice Cut - Gary Palmer - "Let's Ride"
Song of the Month - Acantha Lang - "Lois Lang"
Album of the Month - Will Downing - "The Song Garden"
Choice Cut - Will Preston - "Never Knew Love"

Leave a comment!