Blues-rocker and powerhouse guitarist Coco Montoya returns to Alligator Records with this new release. Produced by drummer Tony Braunagel and recorded by Johnny Lee Schell (who plays rhythm guitar on several tracks and slide on one) with Mike Finnigan on keyboards and Bob Glaub on bass with Lee Roy Parnell adding slide guitar on one track, this is a nice mix of songs from the likes of Warren Haynes, John Hiatt, Gwen Collins, and Homer Banks & Allen Jones, Jr.
Montoya played with Albert Collins for five years and Collins' influence can be felt and heard throughout starting from the opening "Before the Bullets Fly," from Haynes and others, as well as Collins' "The Moon Is Full," where his shouted vocals is matched by his fiery fretwork. Then there is the gospel feel of the Steve Gomes-Ronnie Earl Horvarth penned "I Want to Shout About It," where his celebration of his woman is matched by his blistering playing with Finnigan's organ helping this rocking performance. Parnell's slide adds to the juggernaut feel of "Lost in the Bottle," as whiskey is talking as his eyes are burning red, while his judicious use of sustain and tone embellishes his more low-key vocal on "Old Habits to Break."
The underlying groove of "I'll Find Someone Who Will" is suggestive the Al Green-Syl Johnson classic "Take Me To The River," while the insistent blues-rock "Hard As Hell" evokes some of the Leon Russell produced Freddie King recordings. The Banks-Jones penned "Where Can a Man Go From Here?" is perhaps the outstanding straight blues performance here with a strong vocal as well as his forceful guitar. Even when he rocks things hard, these performances are nicely paced and do not sound rushed or frenzied. With the terrific backing Coca Montoya receives, the varied, fresh-sounding material and Montoya's powerful guitar and heartfelt vocals, the "Hard Truth" is another release to delight those who like blues with a bit of a rock edge.
I received my review copy from Alligator. This review originally appeared in the March-April 2017 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 371). Here Coco Montoya performing "Truth Be Told."