I’m a big fan of Coco Montoya, let’s just get that out of the way. When I was asked to take a hand at writing about his new album, “Coming In Hot” on Alligator Records, I was stoked.
“Coming In Hot” is produced by Tony Braunagel, who I’m also a big fan of. Tony knows how to make blues sound contemporary, without making it slick. He has a deft touch. The drums sound fat, but greasy. The vocals have personality and character, but aren’t overproduced. The guitar sounds amazing. The bass is doing what it’s supposed to do. Tasteful background vocals in all the right places. Braunagel might be the best blues producer going right now.
In full disclosure, Coco is a friend of mine, and a friend of the band I play guitar in, Hunter & The Dirty Jacks. He has sat in with us many times over the years at Harvelle’s, the oldest blues club in Southern California, to benefit feeding the homeless and teaching foster children music. When Guitar Shorty had his van and gear stolen, Coco (and Tony) were quick to jump onstage in an all-star jam fundraiser to get Shorty funds so he could get back on the road.
He also has amaaaaaaazing stories from Albert King, Albert Collins, John Mayall, and so on from his years on the road with them. Coco rules as a human being, and is a one-of-a-kind hang.
But back to the record. It kills. “Good Man Gone” gets things started with a lot of energy. Title track “Coming In Hot” features Coco’s blazing guitar tone and blistering licks, and “Lights Are On But Nobody’s Home” (an Albert Collins song) showcases Coco getting sensitive, which is when he’s at his best. Nobody I know has such an engaging, soulful voice coupled with complete guitar mastery, all at the same time. “Trouble” is vintage Coco… a little bit of tongue-in-cheek humor that makes you smile, great groove … and then the guitar playing … I could listen to it all day and night.
There’s a reason why Coco is a Blues Music Award winner. This album might be deserving of more of those kinds of accolades.
If you like blues, and are looking for something new to listen to, get this album asap and don’t look back. It might end up being the best blues record of the year. Then go see a show… because it’ll definitely be hot!
— Jon Siembieda
- Coco Montoya
‘Coming In Hot’
Label: Alligator Records
Release: Aug. 23, 2019
Photos from Coco Montoya’s July 23 show at Bluesdays in The Village at Squaw Valley