The first Heads Up release from guitarist Chuck Loeb is entitled Presence. The 11 tracks offer a lot for his fans and they won’t be disappointed. There are a couple of cover tunes as well as nine new original compositions. Loeb takes advantage of the human element or human touch in the recording process. In these days of pre-recorded tracks or dubs, it’s nice to hear that the musicians were together when the recording was taking place. He even brings in some of his good friends from over the years to play on several tunes.
“Good To Go” is a nice bouncy, but easy-going, number written by Loeb and Andy Snitzer and is the first single from the disc. Says Loeb, “It really has kind of the positive, bouncy, as you say, kind of feel that I wanted to start the CD off with. So it became the first track.” The surprise here is the added flute from Loeb’s own daughter Lizzy. “Window of the Soul” keeps the light beat going again. It is a constant backbeat to Loeb’s guitar. There’s a nice R&B riff throughout that plays well with the guitar. “Starting Over” is one of my favorites and the opening riffs indicate why. The melody runs free and flows nicely to Matt King’s piano. Then the two join up at the finale for an ending that would make most any musician say “wow.” “Llevame” is a nice escape song about going to the beach. This Spanish influenced tune features Chuck’s wife Carmen Cuesta on vocals. Keyboards and occasional backbeat keep the haunting melody moving along nicely.
Dedicating the title track to his late father-in-law, “Presence” has special meaning to Loeb. The tone is both respectful while thought-provoking. The human element mentioned earlier is clearly evident here. Another favorite is the dark “Western Sky.” Although it has a moody feel, it still has that western tremolo guitar feel to it that makes this one stand out from the rest of the tracks. Add in strings and you have a classic in the making. “Hanging With You” has a completely different feel to it. The bouncy feel from the beginning of the disc returns with the help of saxophonist Andy Snitzer. The two sound great together. “Mr. Martino” is dedicated to guitar great Pat Martino. It’s an up-tempo number that has a bit of a stand up feel to it. The guitar is fluid while continuing to chop into syncopated riffs. Says Loeb, “I did it as if he were sitting in the room with me while I was doing it. On the record you can kind of hear it if you listen carefully, the entire solo I play is doubled. First I recorded it, and then I learned my solo and played it again on top.” Once again the ending is spectacular. James Taylor’s “Shed A Little Light” finishes up the set. It makes the second time that a Taylor-penned song has graced Loeb’s disc. “I wished we could have had the lyrics on there, too. It’s just so poignant and truthful, especially in the day and age we live now.” The piano and horn arrangement makes this one a nice one to finish with.
Overall Presence is a great piece of work from one of music’s most under-appreciated artists. There is so much more here than what initially meets the ear. When one puts their soul into their works, the results can be quite remarkable. I urge you to check out it out today.
- Harvey Cline