May 9, 2015
From the opening notes of the cool and funky lead and title track, you could place a bet that you’re in for a solid treat of good music with guitarist/vocalist Mark Barrios’ latest release Beach Day, and you’d come out a winner. Packed with funk, soul, and jazz, this gem spells quality and good grooves from start to finish.
Taking us to the land of the old school soul/blues boogie, the second track, “Rhythomatic,” nails that earlier dance period where every song had a smile and a special personality. He then tackles a track from one of his favorite artists, Carlos Santana, with a beautifully interpreted 6-minute version of the guitar guru’s “Make Somebody Happy,” with Barrios putting in a most impressive vocal performance.
There are more licks and tracks reminiscent of the great Santana, and Barrios pays wonderful homage to the man’s work and style, in addition to showing off his own smooth stylings, as displayed in the romantic and exotic appropriately titled “The Romantic.” One of my faves, it packs all of the melodic and seductive lure I always seek in these pieces.
Other gems include the settled back and delicious “Daybreak,” the melody-rich “True Heart” that swings from soft and smooth to lively and rhythmic, the rockin’ shaker “I’m Coming Home,” one that simply mesmerized me – the sweet hook-rich ”Just Ain’t Right,” and a stand-up live performance of Santana’s “Soul Sacrifice.”
I recall playfully chiding Barrios once about his debut having an abundance of covers. Well, his response is here as he packs this one with solid, great-sounding and well-produced originals with just three shining covers. A job absolutely well-done. – Ronald Jackson