You probably already familiar with Aldrine Guerrero from his YouTube videos and his lessons on Ukulele Underground. Aldrine has just released his debut CD, Suite 409, and Ryan from UU (the album’s Executive Producer) was brave enough to send me a copy for review.
The Good Stuff
Bandito Tyler (Unplugged): A phenomenal tune. A stone-cold ukulele classic. It’s played with real force and energy. It fizzes out of the speakers.
The album contains two versions of Bandito Tyler: a solo version and a band version. The solo version is by far the most exciting. The tune is so strong and forceful that the band dilute it rather than add to it.
The Instrumental Tracks: As well as having impeccable technique, Aldrine has a way with a tune. The instrumental tracks are instantly catchy.
They’re also nicely varied. Schizophrenic Snowflakes is light and atmospheric. Uke on a Stick is great fun. It starts out as a 21st Century Greensleeves, kicks into some Dick Dale tremelo, launches into Santana-style soloing and recalls the solo from Hotel California before it’s done. Cecilia is steady and meditative. Each of them a huge success on their own terms.
The Not So Good Stuff
The Vocal Tracks: In contrast to the variety of the instrumental tracks, all the songs are mid-tempo, easy listening RnB. Whether he’s lonely (Buttercup), in seduction mode (Red and Silky with Danyo Cummings and Ariki Foster), or resigned (Ducky Adores Me), it never really shows in the songs. Lyrically, the songs don’t ring true. It feels like he’s holding back most of the time.
Listening to the songs made me feel like the girl who feel for the cock-strutting MoFo of Bandito Tyler and ended up with the limp lothario of Red and Silky. I wanted the same passion and honesty of the instrumental tracks in the songs.
Suite 409 announces Aldrine Guerrero as a serious contender in the ukulele world – up there with the very best. If he can get the same passion that he has in his playing into his songs, he’ll be unstoppable.