Artist: Joe Bouchard
Album: The Power of Music
Release Date: 04/29/2016
Good things sometimes come in generic, unimaginative packages. Unless seeing furry-faced old rockers in 3D is your thing, the artwork for Joe Bouchard‘s latest record, The Power of Music, doesn’t inspire much confidence as to its contents, nor does the trite title.
Chances are the ex-Blue Oyster Cult bassist isn’t fretting much over the window-dressing. It’s the songs that matter, and he’s been a part of some classics, including “Career of Evil.” Originally written in a collaboration between his brother Al and Patti Smith, the misanthropic BOC favorite gets a boisterous and deliciously wicked reboot on Bouchard’s fourth solo album, highlighted by the hard-driving, stomping title track and the equally rugged, full-throttle ’60s throwback “Story of the Blues.”
Constructing a wonderfully etched acoustic guitar spider web in the intro to opener “Walk With the Devil,” Bouchard tosses aside that delicate knitting for rougher, growling riffs and searing solos in one of the album’s more satisfying efforts. Indulging in kitschy, garage-rock fun, Bouchard introduces organ, theremin and primitive beats to “Is He the Wolfman,” and yet it’s the bittersweet hooks of “36 Strings” and a brooding, darkly melodic rendering of John Elwood Cook’s “Photographic Evidence” that offer stronger enticement.
Even more surprising, though, is how beautifully conceived the instrumental “Touring Age” is, this immaculately layered piece, so full of yearning and heartache, stirs the soul. Most of The Power of Music is far less adventurous, but in this case, familiarity doesn’t breed contempt.
– Peter Lindblad