Derek Fresquez and Cuttin’ the Chord – Something to Lose | Album Review

Derek Fresquez and Cuttin’ the Chord – Something to Lose


CD: 10 Songs, 50 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, Guitar Monster Blues

Make no mistake: Something to Lose, by California’s Derek Fresquez and Cuttin’ the Chord, contains explosive blues rock. If it were gasoline instead of music, your vehicle wouldn’t run because the octane level is 100%. Leading man Derek Fresquez takes several pages from the playbooks of Walter Trout (“Too Many Notes!”) and SRV, adding more than a footnote of Jimi Hendrix’s psychedelics. Nevertheless, in the midst of this wildfire, some aspects get scorched: vocals (Fresquez’s are blunt and workmanlike), lyrical depth (“I’m out with the boys for a night on the town. It’s time to cut loose, just messing around”), and instrumentation besides lead guitar. Even on slower, more angsty numbers such as “Walk Alone,” the volume is up full-throttle when the atmosphere and mood ought to be a bit lower. This is double-B blues: biker and barroom. Standout tracks include a cover of Albert Collins’ “Dyin’ Flu” (number four) and the original “Ridin’ Free” (number seven). Track eight, possessing surprising beauty, is one yours truly will discuss below.

This Sacramento-based band, “Cuttin’ the Chord,” is Derek’s way of honoring his family band, “Rumpshaker,” where it all began.  Derek gives a very special thanks to his father, Mike Fresquez, for all he has taught him, and to his brother Eric Fresquez for the many musical  experiences they shared growing up. Now in his thirties, Derek has studied the blues since age 14 when he got his first guitar.  Some of his biggest influences are Smokin’ Joe Kubek, Robert Cray, and of course Stevie Ray Vaughan.  You can expect to hear bits of Daniel Castro in his playing as well, as Derek has followed Daniel’s career and studied his playing style extensively.

Joining Derek (lead and rhythm guitar, lead and backing vocals) are Tony Holt on bass guitar and Vern Foster on drums and backing vocals.

“Walk Out That Door” is a gorgeous homage to Stevie Ray that would make him grin in heaven. Once Derek and his posse focus on melody and instrumental balance instead of sheer speaker-blowing loudness, magic happens. It begins with a light rainfall of electric notes upon one’s ears, soft drumming, and a murmuring bassline that’s so subtle it rests on the threshold of hearing. Then Fresquez starts singing. His anger and anguish are palpable: “Where you going, baby, without talking to me? Where you going, baby, after making love to me? You walk out that door, I won’t be here for you anymore.” Carlos Santana would also be proud of this nifty number.

Something to Lose is a shredder lover’s dream. Immolate yourself in the towering inferno that is Fresquez’ fretwork!

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