“Aftermath of the Lowdown” – Richie Sambora

Posted: September 21, 2012 in Music

Richie Sambora’s new solo album was released on Tuesday and sadly not enough people are aware of that.  Aftermath of the Lowdown is Richie’s third solo release and first since 1998’s Undiscovered Soul (his debut album was Stranger in This Town in 1991).  It is a great record that genuinely reflects the personality of the man behind it and gives great insight to the tumultuous road he has traveled down the past handful of years.

My initial reaction after my first listen was that I felt kind of lost.  At first, there didn’t seem to be much of a flow in terms of his sound.  Of the eleven tracks it could be argued that there are three distinct sub-albums within the main album: one-third is in your face rock with lots of effects both vocally and with the guitars; one-third is light on those effects and consist of Richie straight rocking out; one-third are a lot lighter with great grooves, easy to follow vocal tracks and could easily be big radio hits.

That, as I said, was my initial reaction.  I have since listened from start-to-finish more than a half dozen times and am a huge fan of the whole production.  Those heavy effects that I found to be a bit distracting?  They are what give the songs a true identity.  The seemingly pointless jumps from song style A to B to C back to B back to C back to A and so on?  They are a crystal clear projection into the heart and soul of one of music’s most unsung guitar heroes and songwriters.

As everyone knows, Richie is most easily identified as the lead guitarist for Bon Jovi as well as Jon Bon Jovi’s best friend and right-hand man.  However, even if you’re not a fan of the band then you’re probably all too well versed via the tabloids and paparazzi in Richie’s personal struggles of everything from alcohol addiction to divorce to on again, off again relationships.  All of which are vocalized by him in every line of every song on this album.  Every emotional hit he has ever taken, every bottle of alcohol he has ever thrown back, every “one pill too many” he’s swallowed down, every love lost – he makes you feel it all.  For that he deserves every ounce of credit.

The man is an artist, a musician both with his guitar and his pen.  I am an amateur (at best) songwriter and have been asked how I find it so easy to put my emotions down on paper and to share such personal feelings.  Well, if it was hard then that would defeat the purpose.  A song is written to convey the innermost thoughts and emotions of the songwriter and putting it out for public conception is the whole goal.  It’s how we communicate.  Richie communicates to the point where the listener is left with absolutely no doubts as to what was running through his heart and mind when he wrote these pieces.

I’m not going to give a breakdown of all the songs, or even a snippet of the track listing because most of you have not listened to any of them.  I don’t like reading about a song’s breakdown before I’ve heard it because I run the risk of falling victim to the reviewer’s point of view.  The whole concept of listening to new music is to gain your own perspective by way of the artist’s perspective.  I found I easily relate to most of the songs on Aftermath but not necessarily for the same reasons as Richie.  That’s okay.  Just because it’s easy to feel where he himself was at in life when he was feeling those emotions doesn’t mean my heart can’t translate those same emotions in a different manner.  Same words and same emotions just different thoughts, memories and perspectives.

Life gives us those emotions.  They then get stored in our heart and soul until we figure out what to do with them.  Some people keep them there forever.  Some people act them out whether for better or for worse.  Some don’t know what on earth to do with them.  Some unique people turn them into words which empower others when they are heard.  Richie is one of those unique people.  Aftermath of the Lowdown is one of those unique albums.

However, we now know that maybe Richie isn’t as unique as we really think.  Ultimately he’s just a man who hurts, bleeds and cries like the rest of us.  Pick up a copy of Aftermath of the Lowdown and do your own hurting, bleeding and crying with him.  It’s okay.  We’re not too unlike my first impressions of the album: at first things seem all over the map, not much rhyme and reason, but after a while you come to realize that in life all of that craziness is what makes it work.  You get to take every emotion you’ve ever carried with you and put them to use.  Somehow.  It’s your choice.

Thank you Richie for choosing to share yours through music and don’t worry – we will always be here to listen.  And we’re all better for it.

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