Renegade Creation

Renegade Creation
Renegade Creation

Blues Bureau International B0038VPATO

By Tony Del Rey
June 2012

The four impassive faces staring from Renegade Creationís self-titled album jacket ought to give prospective listeners an indication of its contents: a dark, brooding assemblage of minor-modal blues excursions produced by aging, second-tier jazz/fusion guys who take themselves far too seriously to be called entertainers.

This collaborative effort pairing guitar tacticians Michael Landau and Robben Ford, along with bassist/producer Jimmy Haslip and drummer Gary Novak, sounds from the outset like an ensemble of studio sidemen imitating a road-hardened blues band. Despite the facile musicianship that showcases enough lickity-split riffing and assertive guitar soloing to satisfy casual blues fans, the entire album has a phoned-in feel.

The 12 disparate tracks comprising the disc (originals all) are indicative of the strained bonhomie that often occurs when two prodigies find themselves locked in the same studio control room. Judging from the song credits, it appears that each maestro prefers his own publishing, as there are no Landau/Ford compositions to be found on Renegade Creation. Not that a stab at co-writing would have helped their craft any Ė Landau and Ford are equally maladroit at providing strong melody or lyrical verve within the framework of their song structures.

The only tracks giving the album any houseroom are the two instrumentals: Fordís ďPeace,Ē and Gary Novakís album closer, ďBrothers.Ē On these cuts, the guitar states the melody, which is a refreshing change from Landauís weary monotone (he sounds a lot like Mark Knoffler), and Fordís slightly out-of-his-range alto.

For all its technical correctness, Renegade Creation lacks heart. Its combined chemistry of prater-talented musicians and top-notch engineers does little to bolster weak material or spruce up song arrangements played straight as a candle, the result of which produces too few moments of creative chance for listeners to savor.

If only Landau and Fordís playing styles were magnetic opposites, then perhaps, the display of guitar filigree might have taken Renegade Creation to another level. Instead, itís a dull, prosaic album, long on talent but woefully short on creativity. And I donít see a renegade in sight.

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