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Monday, Jan. 25, 2010

Coco Montoya

The Essential Coco Montoya (Blind Pig)

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Coco Montoya's new album is a compilation of original songs and covers drawn from three albums released in the mid- to late-1990s, after a 10-year run with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. All three CDs received critical acclaim, and his debut album earned him a W.C. Handy Award for Best New Blues Artist, along with nominations in two other categories.

Unlike with most compilations, which reflect the tastes of a producer, the songs were chosen by Montoya. The tunes showcase his skillful, attention-getting guitar playing and soulful vocals. Most discuss end-of-relationship matters, and many, including "Am I Losing You" and "Give It to a Good Man," have a soulful melody. However, the blues-rock that Montoya is known for is also present in extended guitar solos on all of the songs. His controlled, emotive and stinging string-work, taught to him by Albert Collins during Montoya's five years in the legendary bluesman’s band prior to the Bluesbreakers, are demonstrated on Collins' "Do What You Want to Do" and the stellar "You'd Think I'd Know Better By Now."

An added bonus is four songs on which another Collins disciple, Debbie Davies, plays rhythm guitar, and two with former Bluesbreakers drummer Joe Yuele. This album is a great sample of Montoya's fusion of soul, blues and rock during a key transition period in his career.