By Tom O’Connor
After a short stint on Ruf Records, formidable blues guitarist and singer, Coco Montoya returned to his previous Alligator Records home for his ninth album, this year’s Hard Truth, an 11-track collection of mostly covers that Montoya makes his own with his diamond-edged guitar playing and full-throated vocals.
Supported by Mike Finnigan on keys, Bob Glaub on bass and with producer Tony Braunagel playing drums on every track, Montoya has all the room he needs to remind listeners that the blues are alive and he is here to testify.
The collection opens with a romping workout on the Allman Brothers’ “Before the Bullets Fly” that Montoya owns with confident vocals and his seemingly effortless guitar. The good-time vibes continue on “I Want to Shout About It,” probably the most upbeat and radio-friendly shuffle in the entire deck. Especially noteworthy on this track is the interplay between Coco’s guitar and the tasteful Hammond organ work by Finnigan. Definitely a stand-out album track and likely a crowd favorite live.
Things get serious but don’t slow down with the cautionary, “Lost in the Bottle.” Some guest slide guitar by Lee Roy Parnell really puts this track over the top. The exploration of the soul-side of the blues continues on the equally serious, but definitely deeper grooving “Old Habits are Hard to Break,” a song that washes over you one feeling at a time.
Thanks to Natasha at 1AnitrasDance for the video.