Favored Nations, 2006
REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/05/2006
Houston, we have found the heir to Joe Satriani's throne, and his name is Andy Timmons.
I'm beginning to think Steve Vai's Favored Nations record label can do no wrong -- everything I've heard released on that label has been amazing, both guitar-based records like this and jazz recordings. Here, session man Andy Timmons delivers 11 blistering tracks of instrumental rock the likes of which have not been heard since Jeff Beck's Blow By Blow.
I'd never heard of Timmons until now, though he's done a lot of session work with pop acts like Paula Abdul and the Beach Boys, not to mention Leann Rimes. But apparently he'd been honing his own rock muse since his start at age 13, and that energy and passion comes through here. At 12 songs, it's only 48 minutes long, but that only leaves the listener wanting more.
When Timmons is on fire, his solos are among the best in the business -- check out the rollicking "Helipad," the classic rock throwback "Deliver Us" or the soulful "Gone (9/11)" for proof that Timmons should no longer be overlooked. "Ghost Of You" has a solid latter-day Jimmy Page vibe, the kind of song Page should have written on Outrider, while the organic title cut features a slow-burning energy reminiscent of Stevie Ray Vaughan, only without the soul.
"Redemption" is the closest thing here to a Satriani cut -- I could have sworn it was played by the master himself, and it flies by too quickly. "Lydia" is solid and muscular and "Move On" is a lost 80s pop metal classic, due mostly to Mitch Marine's drums, but the best of the bunch is "Beware Dark Days," with stop/start drumming and an off-kilter progressive metal foundation akin to Soundgarden or middle-period Dream Theater.
"The Prayer/The Answer" allows the listener to catch his or her breath after nine kinetic walls of sound, but the slow picking is just as good as anything here, sort of a mix between David Gilmour and Steve Ray Vaughan's "Riviera Paradise." It's a good closer, though the hidden untitled track is Timmons' nod to Van Halen's first two albums. Marine provides a country drum beat because, well, why not? But it works.
In fact, the entire disc works and gets my vote as one of the best of 2006. Fans of guitar heroes will find a lot to love here, but what's important is that Timmons is a modern-day guitar hero in an age where only a handful exist, and for that this disc is worthwhile. It just helps that it's also so damn excellent.