Review Summary: An instrumental solo album from a renowned youtube guitarist that feels nothing like your typical boring solo album.
Originally starting out as a YouTube hit, Andy James gained mass popularity warranted by his amazing abilities on the electric guitar. Although many may think of Andy as a new solo artist, he has actually been creating solo albums since 1999 and his latest self named released “Andy James” is actually his fourth LP to date. Andy’s musical inspirations are Andy Timmons, John Petrucci, Paul Gilbert, and Adam Dutkiewicsz. His musical style really shows his passion and fire for writing powerful upfront music that is also full of emotion which affirms his response to an interview question where he said “The immediate response is what it’s all about”.
Andy has his own electrifying unique sound and style which adds to the diversity of his music that ranges from up tempo metal songs to ballads. It is clear that Andy believes a good song is one that tells a story and has a strong melodic approach. It is these qualities that really caught my attention. With so many solo artist’ it’s hard to separate the good from bad and trust me I’ve heard them all. But Andy’s approach is different. While many guitarist write music that is beautiful they lack the fire and drive of metal artist while other metal artist have plenty of fire and drive but lack the emotional factors like Jeff Loomis. Andy strikes a perfect balance between the intensities you’ll find with Jeff Loomis’ sweeps, tremolos, and tapping but all the while stabilizing the fury with heartfelt meaningful emotions from the likes of Andy Timmons and Paul Gilbert.
Andy’s writing style is extremely refined and perfected. “Gateways” shows his impeccable legato techniques which are basically the ability to continuously without let up, play note after note without pausing in between. His leads and harmonies add so much depth to the musical passages without oppressing the listener with monotony. It’s as if Andy has somehow reached a superior level over his inspirational counterparts. This is obviously due to insatiable desire to impress the listener with enjoyable music and make you forget that you are actually listening to an instrumental album. Each songs has typical song structures like bridges, chorus’, interludes, hooks, and crescendos which are much different than other solo artist’ who like to just play solos over backing rhythms. I believe these apparent song structures are Andy’s success to a strong fourth LP release.
Not only do songs strike a perfect balance between intensity and emotion but each song is very different from the other in both structure and feel which also allow this LP to be listened to effortlessly from beginning to end. Some tracks like “What Lies Beneath” and “Seperation” and softer ballads that build into exciting epic moments while “Bullet in the Head” and “Angel of Darkness” are more along the lines of straight up metal but each track always feels like it was placed perfectly in the album to give the greatest level of musical fluidity.
You must trust that I’ve almost every single solo instrumental album there is to hear and I’m a strong skeptic who finds almost all of them passable but this latest release by Andy James has broken those boring monotonous molds and breathes enjoyable life into such a lackluster and stagnant genre. Do yourself a favor and listen to this and you’ll find this album will in turn do favors for you.