Mesa Bluemoon Recordings – 2017
12 tracks; 41 minutes
A quick visit to Luis Oliart’s website reveals that he is not only a musician but also a music teacher, producer of film scores and an actor, plus he is the director of The North Hollywood Interfaith Food Pantry – a busy man with many talents. This appears to be his second album release, following Just Another Day in 2013. Recorded in his home studio in LA, the album is all original with Luis writing seven songs on his own and working with three other writers on the remaining five: Craig T Fall, Pablo Correa and Melissa Gould. There are a lot of musicians involved: Luis handles vocals, guitar, bass and percussion, drums are by Andrew Jaimez and Ty Fleming, Craig T Fall plays keys and resonator, Debra Windsong harmonica, Rasmus Ehrborn guitar, Ric Solem piano, Scott Page sax, Peter Olstad trumpet and Kesten Solomon beat box; Jameson Moss, Miranda Finn, Josh Elson, Wiley Cox and Michael Lever provide backing vocals.
The material here covers a good range, including acoustic and electric blues, elements of gospel, Spanish music and melodic rock. Opener “Find Me Religion” has Luis searching for his path with resonator and acoustic guitar in support whereas the title track is more of an Americana tune with good vocal harmonies. “Don’t Think I Want To Dance” blends resonator and electric guitar on a chugging blues tune before the instrumental “French Soul” which features some soaring guitar and is a strong track, especially for guitar fans! “I’ve Been Away” is a gentle tune with some of the feel of “Stand By Me” and more good harmonies, one of three co-writes with Melissa Gould.
Things get far bluesier on “Train” with appropriate harmonica sounds adding to some keening slide work, Luis’ lyrics explaining that he needs to “see your smoking stack to get me home by nine”. The tune starts slowly but builds in intensity, another winner. The horns make their first appearance on “Can’t Find Her Way”, a plaintive ballad with a full choir of harmonies behind Luis’ vocal and baritone guitar to which the horns add depth towards the end. Luis switches to Spanish for “Esta Vez” which has some nice Spanish guitar flourishes to match the latin style. “Jah Jah” is an uptempo tune which is probably the rockiest cut on the album with plenty of funky wah-wah.
A second instrumental entitled “Swing Thing” features the horns and really races along with the horns answering Luis’ guitar lines and a middle section with piano, trumpet, sax and guitar all getting solos. Luis gets serious in the lyrics of “Lord Make My”, a song with country rhythms in which Luis confesses his sins as well as asking for help in securing the love of his intended. The oddly titled instrumental “Little Jay’s Struggle” closes the album with moody slide over North African sounding guitar and plenty of percussion (possibly including the beat box credited in the list of musicians).
Throughout this varied fare Luis sings pleasantly and plays all manner of guitars, acoustic and electric, really well. The result is an interesting album that makes good listening with something for everyone.