Rich Hopkins And Luminarios - 'My Way Or The Highway'

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Rich Hopkins And Luminarios - 'My Way Or The Highway'

Shows a band making their own unique way within the Americana soundscape via an accomplished, self-assured release.

This former Sidewinders has more albums to his name than many people have birthdays. The pioneer of Alt Desert Rock is completely at home on this record, comfortable in his own skin, making music for himself rather than pursuing the commercial mainstream. This is an extremely varied set, with Rich Hopkins following his muse wherever it takes him, yet things are always rooted in his signature guitar sound. Its variety is best explained by highlighting how different the tracks are from one another.

You know he's confident when the opener, 'Angel Of The Cascade', is a spoken travelogue about holidaying with his wife Lisa Novak, who adds a sweet vocal. It's in no hurry to bang you over the head. 'Gaslighter' has the guitar jangle of Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers' Mike Campbell and Hopkins' vocal here does have a whiff of Petty himself.
'Want You Around' has his wife singing again, sounding uncannily like Aimee Mann. It then goes into more expansive mode. 'If You Want To' lets him play guitar, unfurling a long solo that drives, in no hurry, with the top down. The acoustic 'Lost Highway' takes him back to his Desert Rock roots; you can imagine the sidewinder snaking across the hot sand on this standout track.



There's even a stab at Rap which sounds much better than it looks on paper. 'Meant For Mo' starts acoustically, with Psychedelic keyboard and then a Rap vocal supplied by Cesar Aguire. The Alt Rock meets Rap works thanks to the Hopkins and co-producer Lars Goransson's good taste, keeping the Rap in Steinbeck country rather than bling and swimming pools. It has a big effects-laden solo that sends the track off into outer space. 'Come Hell Or Highwater' is a Country Rocker, with touches of Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones, while 'I Don't Want To Love You Anymore' – sung again by Novak – is drenched in feedback and comes on like Hazeldine.

'Chan Kah' is fragile, part spoken and Novak's backing vocals give it a Timbuk 3 quality. 'Gnashing Of Teeth' has a lengthy, expansive Red House Painters feel and more desert guitar, while the short 'Walkaway Again' is a lovely acoustic number with an honest, aching vocal that captures a fractured relationship; it's a fine way to end.

Featuring great diversity, this shows a band making their own unique way within the Americana soundscape via an accomplished, self-assured release.

Duncan Jamieson

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