I was fortunate enough to get a chance to review one of Bob Lanza’s previous albums (From Hero To Zero) in January 2016. You can read all about it here. That was their second album, and their latest Time To Let Go is their fourth release. Obviously, I have some catching up to do.
I liked Lanza’s sound a lot. They are a stripped down straight driving blues band with touch of rock and enough showmanship to handle just about any audience from rowdy bar to sophisticated festival. Based out of the wilds of New Jersey, and signed to Connor Ray Music out of Texas, they bring a great deal of energy and talent to the table.
Time To Let Go is a bit of a departure for Lanza. During the recording process, he lost both his brother and his mother and those losses affected him deeply. It seems to have put Lanza into a more melancholy place and his songs reflect that.
Oh, there’s still a wink of the eye and a nod of the head to the audience. Starting with the cover photo of the album you know that Lanza’s wicked sense of humor is still intact. There’s an old saying that as long as a man can stay on the earth by holding onto a blade of grass, he’s not really drunk. Well, Lanza couldn’t find a blade of grass, but that brick walkway will do just fine.
The band consists of Lanza on guitar and vocals; Sandy Joren on bass; Vin Mott on drums (and harp on one song); Randy Wall on piano and B3; Arne Wendt on piano, B3, and Wurlitzer for three tracks; Steve Krase on harp for two songs; Don Erdman plays harp on one song; The Cranberry Lake Horns under the direction of Rob Chaseman appear on four songs; and The Robernaires add background vocals.
The album starts off with a bluesy rendition of Hank Williams’ Mind Your Own Business. This one is a hot song, swinging, and it gets things going on a high note. I like the energy that Lanza and company have on display. Oh, that sax is such a great addition.
Next up is the title track, Time To Let Go. This is a very personal song to Lanza as he deals with his own personal loss. It’s a reminder that we have to move on after tragedy. It’s a deep jazzy blues number with brushes on the drums, what sounds like an upright bass, and a horn. Lanza’s guitar takes a beautiful lead. This is a great song.
He keeps the mood consistently upbeat with the song When The Sun Comes Up. It’s the next day after all the problems and he’s ready to face whatever comes. It’s more of a rock song with some very good guitar/keys work.
He brings the tempo down just a bit on Your Turn To Cry, a song of surviving being done wrong by a woman. Again, Lanza’s guitar work is very good and overlays the foundation set up by the bass, keys, and horns. Good combo work that can explode at any second.
The guitar drives us in to Rush’n The Blues, and the horns add a swinging beat behind it. This blues instrumental really showcases just how good the band actually is and what they are capable of unleashing. Sometimes the band’s contributions get lost behind vocals and I always welcome a chance to hear them rip into a song on their own.
The harp brings us into a great song, Don’t Go No Further. According to the track listing on my album, it’s supposed to be Follow Your Heart, but it’s obviously not. Maybe it’s a rare mistake that will be worth something. Who cares, it’s a great song and they do it up proud.
Now we get Follow Your Heart, a solid number with a driving guitar. The lyrics are by Ronnie Earl and are very good and Lanza is in good voice. He’s working through some issues and reminding himself (and us) that to truly be happy, we have to find those passions and follow them.
He slows things down just a tad on Love Me Or Leave Me, a song that could be handled by a small combo as a late night piece. The bass line is very strong and the honkytonk piano adds a nice touch. It’s really good to hear contemporary artists revisiting the work of Percy Mayfield. So good.
Lanza has fun with a little Bob Wills style Texas swing on You’re Not In Texas. It’s a good story song that pulls you in quickly and keeps you moving throughout. If you want a party in a song, look no further.
Guitar and harp come together to set up the quick paced Johnny Smith. This is one that would get an audience up out of their seats and onto the dance floor. Muddy Waters’ Walkin’ Thru The Park closes out the album. It’s a good raucous rendition of the well-known song and Lanza does it justice.
It’s safe to say that I’ve seen a lot of growth from Lanza and Company and I already thought they were damn good before. I’ve pulled several songs to include on an upcoming show of Time For The Blues and will be eagerly awaiting his next release. Heck, I might even find my way up to the Garden State to catch a show or two. If you see me coming in the door, be sure to save me a seat at the bar.
And if you would like to join me, or just catch them for yourself, be sure to check them out at http://www.boblanzabluesband.com/ and be sure to pick up his previous albums to add to your collection.