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Max Navarro - 'Hard Times' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/ef/cc/9e/3071_MaxNavarroHardTimes_1356046014.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     December 20, 2012    
 
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Short but sweet, so very sweet.

Short but sweet, so very sweet. This album is only about thirty minutes long but because of that has no filler - just classic rock with a bit of pop and a bit of a soulful edge. ´Hard Times´ is Max Navarro´s third album, badged as a Canadian from Vancouver but based in Italy from birth there is a bit of a nod to the other groover from Vancouver, namely Bryan Adams. As Bryan did in his heyday, Max has kept a band around him who worked on previous albums. They deserve credit as the album sounds like a band affair with John Paul Bellucci and Nick Mayer on guitars, Jack Novell on bass and Simone Morettin on drums.

As for Max himself, there is an astonishing vocal resemblance to Steve Van Zandt (aka Little Steven); to a lifelong Disciple of Soul this is a real find. Not only does Max have the breathy slightly wavering (in a soulful sense) voice, his vocal phrasing is very similar to the master. To his credit, Max probably has a bit more range – what a revelation! I advise a listen to a few tracks to check that you are on the same wavelength as me; however, I am hooked.

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Reading through Max´s press release; sure enough, Bruce Springsteen, Dire Straits and Bon Jovi are listed as influences. This album is very much a hybrid of these related but different genres. Keeping the Little Steven parallel going, this album displays Max´s similar social conscience; indeed he states this album is dedicated to “all the victims of this dirty, sick and cannibal society´. Standout songs are the upbeat opener ´You Can Rely On´ and the riff-laden ´Cryin´´. However, it is hard to single out songs; even initially acoustic songs such as ´Winter In Chicago´ invariably turn into monster anthems! This album keeps its intensity throughout, only displaced when the music box introduction of the opening track reminds you that you have looped through the CD yet again.

On the basis of this album, I will be checking out Max´s earlier releases, namely 2007s ´Branded On My Skin´ and 2009s ´No Belonging After Dark´. My only beef is the CD length but he has gone for quality not quantity.

Rob McKenzie

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