Love and Money takes Bobby Messano’s music to the before unknown extremes of darkness. This is the legendary Bobby Messano who has toured with Steve Winwood, recorded with Lou Gramm, Franke and the Knockouts, Benny Mardones, Joe Lynn Turner, was a part of Starz and produced and played with the Shadows of Knight. Despite these huge successes and 19 Grammy nominations, life is not always upbeat for this guitar hero.
In the opening song Bobby laments, “April Showers don’t bring no flowers when the rain is mixed with snow.” In “April Showers” we hear of his trials and tribulations where he tells us he cannot make everyone happy all the time. For a big, blues rocker, this is minimalistic sound with acoustic guitar in the forefront with the rest of the band subdued in support. But then Messano then switches things up with some stinging electric guitar after a nice piano solo by Freddie Gasparini and we wind our way for a big finish.
The title track follows. The love Bobby talks about here is not the lasting sort but one that is used for gains and material things. A sad commentary perhaps is being played out while he and the band really nail this song. It’s got a mean, boogie sort of groove and it is driven by Messano on his guitar and Gasparini on the organ. The groove is laid down by the backline of Suavek Zaniesienko on bass and Dave Hollingsworth on drums, perhaps the tightest and coolest backline he’s toured and played with. “Seasons” also builds from a simpler acoustic guitar to a big, momentous sound. Messano is masterful in his approach to tunes like these.
Bobby and the band completely funk things up for us in “What I Got.” The theme remains dark, lamenting over no money, no car, no house, no girl, etc., etc., but stating that it’s his love that keeps him going we find hope in the song. Some fine organ and guitar work here make for a really sweet sound, and Dave and Suavek also give us a deep groove to swing to. Bobby tells us of the demands place on him in “Everything is Alright.” It also speaks to us of the hope of success that helps us cope when we suffer with adversity. The song verges on country music with its’ opening fiddle work, but Messano remains grounded in blues and rock in this tasteful ballad.
Messano takes us back to Steve Winwood and Blind Faith with “Had To Cry Today.” Guitar and organ blend well for Messano and Gasparini (as they did for Clapton and Winwood) and they and the band give it their all. Bobby’s vocal range remains stratospheric as he winds his way sweetly through this classic blues rock cut. Even with this Winwood song the tact Messano takes with the songs remains one with darker lyrical intent.
As a stark contrast to the rest of the tunes, Bobby also gives us the instrumental “Boddentown,” a Latin-infused samba with some spectacular guitar work. Messano has layered on the guitars here to great effect; the sound of Messano’s guitar is more of the style of Carlos Montoya or Al Di Meola than rockers like Carlos Santana or Eric Clapton. “Rollin’ On” is a mid tempo blues rocker. One hears the influences of Bobby’s early rock career blended with the bluesy approach of his latter career from these past two decades.
“My Failed Career” contrasts the “success” of limos and Gucci bags with the starker realities of Messano’s life and what makes his blues real and authentic. A deep, bluesy cut with a little funk from Bobby’s guitar and Freddy’s organ make this a very enjoyable slow tempo tune. “Hard World 2015” is a big, rolling blues rocker that completes the album and leaves us with a little hope despite the frustrations of life in 2015.
After 40 years in the industry Messano has enjoyed success at the top and mucked around in the dregs of it all. Yet he remains hopeful and positive. This CD is a catharsis of sorts. Bobby is purging himself of the demons that have perplexed him throughout the years while masterfully putting together what has to be his showcase album. His fans and new listeners will really enjoy this piece of well-crafted work. I loved this album and strongly recommend you listen to it and feel the emotions bared in this great music.