Blue Largo – Got To Believe | Album Review

Blue Largo – Got To Believe

Self Released

11 tracks/52 minutes

Blue Largo is a Southern California band formed in 1999 by guitarist Eric Lieberman and vocalist Alicia Aragon.  Liebermann has been a fixture in the music scene there since 1981, having formed the Rumboogies and Juke Stompers after a stint with The King Biscuit Blues Band. He meet Alicia while in that band.

Blue Largo released a couple of album and then took a thirteen year hiatus recording because of Eric fighting a neurological disorder impeding his guitar playing that he has since overcome. In 2018 came their fourth album and a fifth was slated for 2020 when the pandemic hit and which took the wind out of their sails.  But a book signing by Eric’s hero Steven Van Zandt moved Eric to let Little Steven hear the cut and that moved them to return to the  studio and complete the album.

Alicia Aragon, now in her sixties, sings with the experience the years have given her. Lieberman plays guitar with fire and ferocity. Taryn “T Bird” Donath handles piano and adds Hammond organ to a pair of cuts. On bass is Mike “Sandalwood” Jones and Marcus P. Bashore is on drums. Eddie Croft and David Castel are spectacular on the saxophones. Jody Bagley plays organ on the other nine tracks and Scot Smart adds reggae guitar to track 5. The pedal steel on the next to last cut is played by David Berzansky. Ruth Ajuzie adds some good fiddle to the second cut and Liz Ajuzie provides backing vocals. Tambourine on track  9 is done by Roy Silverstein.

“A World Without Soul” gets things started, a swinging cut with nice horns and a great groove. We get a fine piano and guitar solo here, too.  A song of hope, it’s a nice opening cut that Aragon croons for us. The title track follows, another hope filled song. A big sax solo followed by a guitar solo and all this with cool organ support. The vocals and song hearken back to sound and style of the early 60’s. “Soul Meeting” is a ballad of spiritual reunion if the afterlife, featuring a thoughtful guitar solo and some very churchy organ accompaniment that adds to the track. “What We Gotta Do” is a rocking track about doing what we have to do because we’re called to do so. Another big piano solo is followed again by a ringing guitar solo and Argaon sings with her angst filled style.

“Disciple of Soul” is a tribute to Little Steve Van Zandt, Featuring a short instrumental interlude in the middle of it, the song has a bouncing vibe and was the impetus for the band to go back to the studio and make this album. “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” is a slow blues cover of the Nina Simone song with Aragaon  belting out the lead vocals. There’s a slick guitar solo with major musical accompaniment and some more nice organ and piano work. “Soldier in the Army of Love” follows, a song about fighting oppression and injustice. It’s dedicated to the people of Ukraine in their fight for freedom. A guitar and sax solo add nicely to the mix. The bouncy “Ronnie” is the story of the piano player Taryn’s much older mentor Ronnie Lane who passed in 2018. She played piano in his band at age 13 and Lane was 43; the song takes poetic license with he differing ages. A piano solo with feeling is featured here.

“Gospel Music” is next, a song that pays homage to the power of music and Gospel rhythms despite their lack of beliefs. It’s a bouncy and jumping cut. There’s plenty of great sax and organ here to make an unbeliever faithful.  The soulful and slow “Rear View Mirror” follows, a song about looking back as one gets older. It’s no longer about the headlights shing ahead but the memories one has made. A thoughtful guitar and sax solo add to this one’s feeling. They conclude with “Santa Fe Bound,” a cut with a sountry and western feel to it. Honky-tonk piano and pedal steel guitar set the mood for this finale. Another ringing guitar solo followed by some more pedal steel make this one a full blown countrified blues song.

This is a fun album of songs the band obviously enjoyed playing and making together. One senses their camaraderie and joy in working together, It’s an interesting effort with ten originals and a slick cover that is worth a listen!

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