Release Date: September 9, 2009
Richie Kotzen’s latest offering, Peace Sign, once again showcases the distinctive blend of styles that has won the virtuoso guitarist fans worldwide. The twelve-track album is divided into three equal sections: rock, soul/funk, and pop balladry. Because of the album’s track sequencing, it starts very strong, though the flow drags during the four ballads that close the disc. Kotzen’s choice of tones further distinguishes the styles, from the thunderous single-coil sound that opens ‘Long Way From Home’ and the angry saturation of his ‘My Messiah’ rhythms, to the buzzy riff tones on ‘We’re All Famous’ and ‘Your Entertainer.’ Acoustic guitar is the most obvious addition to his sound on the ballads, and Kotzen complements it with jangly rhythm tones on ‘Catch Up To Me’ and warm leads on ‘Larger Than Life.’
Kotzen’s songwriting shines on tracks like the driving opener ‘My Messiah,’ the insistently funky ‘Your Entertainer’ and the soul-bearing ‘Catch Up To Me,’ where his impassioned vocals sell the song’s confessional lyrics. His guitar playing strikes a great balance between soulful phrasing and fretboard melting in the solos on ‘Best Of Times’ and ‘Lie To Me,’ where he finds the best pockets in the groove to start phrases and dig into bends. Kotzen takes his most interesting solo on the album during ‘You Got Me’ – using a less saturated, twangier tone, he slips in and around the beat with his most lyrical playing, making colorful note choices and saving a brilliant blast of speed for the final phrase.