Monday, August 30, 2010

Album Review - Paul Tauterouff – Audio Chocolate

Paul Tauterouff is a highly respected guitarist, live sound, studio recording engineer and guitar teacher living in upstate New York.

He has been playing guitar since 1979, and is influenced by guitarists Gary Moore, Michael Schenker, Adrian Smith, Glenn Tipton and Wolf Hoffman. He has played and mixed countless shows in the tri-state area over the past 25 years.

Paul is just about to release his debut solo album Audio Chocolate. I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy. It rocks, it stomps, it’s well worth checking out. Let’s dive in.

The album opens with the instrumental track Bitty Bop, a hard rock/old school metal number with a riff straight out of the British metal scene of the late 70s early 80s. Rather than shamelessly flailing all over the frets, the lead guitar follows very vocal-like melodies. A foot stomper for sure.

Track 2, Voices, is the album’s first vocal track. Opening with a haunting piano section by Dustin Graham before dropping into a tasty hard rock solo, with husky vocals coming courtesy of Johnny Ryan, and a guest solo by Nick Layton, this is an all American sounding affair.

The third track, Frozen Heart, was reviewed by Guitar Player magazine editor Michael Molenda, who described the track as “bouyant and melodic”, with a “fat and present tone”, and he wasn’t wrong.

Third Heartbreak kicks off with a clean guitar riff, which becomes the canvas for some of the tastiest clean phrases on the record. The track then morphs into a hard rock power ballad, allowing Paul, and guest soloists Jon Finn and Shane Theriot to pull-off their best John Sykes impressions. All serve the song tremendously.

Track 5 is a rootin’ tootin’ Southern Rock affair. With Johnny Ryan’s raspy vocals, Pete Hartley’s insane fiddle shredding and Paul’s guitar work, Rebel is an album highlight.

Sapphire is essentially a modern blues track, but Paul knows how to work a key, so exciting guitar skills and aural thrills are ever present. Keys by Donny Wilkins.

The seventh track, Suburb Blues, sees the most guest musicians on the album. Jim Dix delivers a great vocal performance, Donny Wilkins has fun on keys and John Tutino gives a lesson in phrasing on the saxophone. Not to be out done, Paul brings the pain, riffing up a storm and laying down some world class solos.

Frozen Heart – T2 Edition, is the vocal edition of track 3, featuring Peter Tamdog’s powerful operatic vocals and Kevin Hamm on bass.

Track 9, The Journey, kicks off with a wah laden riff and a funky bassline, morphs into a power ballad and finally fades out with an ambient Moorish feel, complemented throughout by Cheryl Pyle on the flute. Also, Paul drops his best solos on the record.

The final track, Farewell, is based solely on a clean rhythm guitar chord progression. Paul floats clean lead guitar on top, and gives way to John Tutino’s saxophone (lots of cool ideas for guitar here). Paul and John then twist and dance around each other’s phrases, which finally fades out the album.

What I really enjoyed was how Paul makes a gentlemanly nod to his influences, rather than wearing them on his sleeve, allowing his own musical voice to sine through. Not particularly genre specific, but there is more than enough high level guitar (and sax!) work available to satisfy all but the most extreme shred fans. All in all, a very listenable album.

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