I was introduced to Eric Van Aro in 2005 on his Friends album. Back then, I felt Van Aro had a special talent and I could see him climbing up the ladder and finding his way to higher ground in the digital cesspool that the internet can be for an artist trying to make a name. Three years is a blink of an eye in the grand scheme of things but in retrospect it is a very long time for an artist to develop and put out more recordings, in this case only five tracks have emerged.
Desert Motel may be an abridged version of what I was expecting from an artist that has been idol in releasing a recording however it does pack enough punch to make up for the fact that it is not a full length release. No sense dwelling on all of that because what we have are five very strong tracks of pop peppered with jazz. This is a similar formula as the last outing except it leans more heavily towards pop whereas Friends was pretty much jazz straight away.
“Can’t Find My Way Home,” the classic Blind Faith anthem, starts things off and impresses as not only a tribute to the originator but also a statement to the versatility and strength of the vocalist. The following track harkens back to the previous style with a jazz flavored take on “The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress” whilst “4 & 20” continues to sweep you away to the clouds and “On The Road” Medley” puts Van Aro and his band in the spotlight. This is not so much like a struttin’ your stuff thing but a showcase for the vocalist and his very capable band. As the CD winds down to a close “Is It Love That We’re Missing” fits the approach of Van Aro like a well-worn glove. The singer greets each song like a long lost friend then proceeds to give them a little TLC.
This is music for the 40-50 something’s that like to relax and cool down on the way to work and then on the way home. This is definitely not for you if you are looking for a shot of energy and want to wave your fist defiantly in the air and holler out the window. – This is by the fireplace with wine and cheese music and whatever other pleasant distractions that do not cause stress that happens to come to mind.
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
October 27, 2008