Coco Montoya’s latest album Hard Truth demonstrates the 65-year-old Stratocaster singer’s ability to play and sing the blues. Montoya certainly holds his own with the blues community and has a storied resume. He even used to play with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, filling a spot once occupied by Eric Clapton and Peter Green.
“Before the Bullets Fly,” which opens the record, is a cover from Gregg Allman’s 1998 album by the same name. It’s a heavier blues number that carries a confident smoothness to it. The entire album is basically flooded with this type of attitude–there are no ploys or wildly outrageous moments, but nearly every track exhibits a professionalism only Coco can pull off.
The album is glazed in blues but there are a few tunes that “shine a light.” Montoya pours his heart out to his audience in “I Want to Shout About It.” A tender tune that indicates his love for a woman whom he isn’t shy about expressing his feelings for: “She rocks me long, long, long and slow/ I want to shout about it/ She’s so good for me.” “The Moon is Full,” an Albert Collins cover, is a warm number that helps Montoya maintain a balance between blues and smooth rock. He is truly a genuine blues artist but his music at times lacks diversity. His style can seem rather two-dimensional and there is little in his music that hasn’t been done before. The talent is there but his distinctiveness is not necessarily as prevalent.
Montoya’s best melody is the third track, “Lost in the Bottle,” which is certainly the heaviest song on the album. The opening is exactly the all-encompassing sound he needs to produce more of–it’s energetic, stirring and authentic.
Hard Truth is just as raw as it is refined. Montoya knows the blues-rock sound and stays true to himself and the blues.