Saturday, August 18, 2018

Dennis Herrera: “You Stole My Heart” (2018) CD Review

The blues can make you feel so damn good. Dennis Herrera knows this to be true, and shows it with his new release, You Stole My Heart, an album full of great grooves and classic sounds. Two different bands back Dennis Herrera on this album, one based in northern California, the other in southern California. The first includes Sid Morris on piano, Frank DeRose on bass, Jack Sanford on saxophone, and Robi Bean on drums. The second features Rich Wenzel on keys, Bill Stuve on bass, Lee Campbell on drums, Gordon Peeke on percussion and Denis Depoitre on harmonica. All songs are originals, written by Dennis Herrera.

The album kicks off with its title track, “You Stole My Heart,” which has something of a classic rock and roll sound, complete with great work on keys and saxophone. And there is joy in his vocals, as he sings lines like “Maybe give me a chance/For some love and romance.” Because, hey, this is a love song, and not one of love gone wrong. This is just the thing to get your body moving and your mind off the state of the country. This song is a rock and roll party, and we’re all invited. See you there! This track features the northern California players, and they do jam on it. That’s followed by the southern California musicians joining Dennis Herrera for “Takes Money,” a groovy rhythm and blues tune with some delicious work on bass. “I learned it takes money for this/It takes money for that/It’s all about the money, babe/And that’s a fact/I don’t want to believe it/But it’s true.” It develops into a good blues jam led by Denis Depoitre on harmonica. That band (without Depoitre) also plays on “Fore,” which features more classic vibes, and an easygoing stroll-like rhythm that is so damn appealing. This playful track is so much fun that I don’t even mind that it’s about golf, an activity I do not care for at all.

In “With No Refrain,” the line “Well, you make me feel just like a king when you call my name” makes me think of Donald Trump. This is why he has those rallies, he feels like a king when his moronic followers shout out his name. But even though it reminds me of that mendacious prick, this is a good tune, and features some nice work on guitar. And other lines make me think of my girlfriend, someone I’d much rather have on my mind. Take this line, for example: “One day without your loving is one day too long.” True. That’s followed by “Look Out,” a song about aging, and about how life is short, stuff I am well aware of these days. Yet the song has a positive, empowering vibe. I mean, that cool, steady rhythm feels like something we can latch onto and ride forever, through life, through death, and beyond into whatever might be out there.

“Recovery” is a groovy, jazzy tune that also deals with getting older and perhaps wiser, looking back at certain choices. This one becomes a cool jam with some good work on saxophone. It’s followed by “You Can Name It,” a delightful instrumental track with a somewhat relaxed groove and nice stuff on keys. Denis Depoitre returns on harmonica for “Backed-Up,” a song about a topic that is familiar to those of us in Los Angeles. “Lord knows I’m tired/I’m sick of waiting/Just creeping along, lord/This back-up I’m hating.” He then adds, “It’s hell on the highway.” You’d be surprised how many conversations in Los Angeles are about the roads and traffic. And for good reason. Last night (or this morning) I got off work at 2:30, and traffic was stopped on Route 5. Fortunately, someone who left a bit earlier sent messages warning us, and we were able to take another route. Traffic is ridiculous in Los Angeles, and – as Dennis sings in this song – “It gets worse every day.” But don’t use the solution offered by Dennis Herrera in this song: “Might just buy me a motorcycle/Scoot on down the middle lane.” Motorcycles riding between lanes are so bloody dangerous.

“My Past Time” is a wonderful slow blues number, one of my personal favorites. It’s about looking back, taking stock. He sings, “But I have my regrets, people/Maybe more than I should” then quickly adds, “And I don’t like to think about that.” This track features some really good stuff on organ. “Some say don’t live in the past/If you want your peace of mind to last.” Then “Run With The Losers” is a fun, bluesy rock tune. The album then concludes with “Bittersweet,” a very cool tune with a back porch blues vibe, performed solo by Dennis Herrera.

CD Track List
  1. You Stole My Heart
  2. Takes Money
  3. Fore
  4. With No Refrain
  5. Look Out
  6. Recovery
  7. You Can Name It
  8. Backed-Up
  9. My Past Time
  10. Run With The Losers
  11. Bittersweet
You Stole My Heart is scheduled to be released on August 24, 2018.

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