Cosmic Troubadour – BILLY SHEEHAN – 2005

This is the bass shred guru’s second solo album. Among the welcome inclusions is a real drummer, than some computer manipulating noughts and zeros. That helps massively. So how does this album compare to the extremely average Compression? Read on.

Well, the first thing that struck me was the presence of kicking rhythms from the get go. The bass takes up space and all, but surprisingly, it’s not necessarily mixed as the main instrument. Even so it’s impressive, Sheehan obviously serves the song. Sadly, the songs themselves don’t come in too many flavours. This album is crying out for more variety with regard to dynamics. Also, too many songs start and stop suddenly.

I noticed by the third song, that Sheehan has a predilection for swirling and swinging basslines that take up multiple frequencies and leave space for yet more swirling and swinging solos. Ah! The solos. Sheehan has all the bases covered (no pun intended) when it comes to soloing, but they are not necessarily memorable. Even so, I like his tone quite a bit. It’s heavy and mechanical. Excellent and unique.

Coming, to the lyrics, though they really aren’t the main point of the album, they are terrible. Also, you can tell that Sheehan isn’t a singer. Not that he can’t carry a note; its just that the phrasing is quite lacking.

As far as individual songs are concerned,  some songs kinda grow on you after some time, like “From the Backseat” and “Hope”, which is the only song with interesting chord changes. Other good songs are “Dreams of Discontent” and “Long Walk Home”, which sounds a bit like Santana playing bass. No bad thing, mind you.

My problem with this album is not with the playing. It’s that the chord changes and repetitive and unoriginal. Too many things start and stop suddenly. Too many things are repeated for 4 to 8 bars. The singing is average, the drums are so-so, as is the guitar playing. But the crucial question is this. Is Sheehan’s bass playing on this album memorable and great enough to save this to save this album from middle-of-the-road-ness? No. I’m afraid. No. Though there is a conscious attempt to serve songs-which is laudable-the songs themselves aren’t strong enough to stand on their own. Oh, and did I mention the songs start and stop suddenly too often? This does not sound right.



– El Bajista

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