Hardware (2021)

Three years after “The Big Bad Blues”, the famous ZZ Top guitarist is back with his third solo album "Hardware".
As we don't change a winning team, Billy is once again surrounded by Matt Sorum and guitarist Austin Hanks...

We have here 12 rather rock tracks written by Gibbons and Sorum supported by the tandem of the prod' Fiorentino/Schlosser except for the cover of "Hey Baby, Que Paso" of Texas Tornados. It starts very strong, with ZZ Top style, with "My Lucky Card" and we already know that at 71 years old, Billy will give no quarter on this album. It continues crescendo with "She's On Fire", its catchy choruses and its guitar solo well done by a Billy definitely in great form. "More-More-More" has a nice 80's feel that reminds us of the best moments of "Eliminator" and Mr Gibbons torments his guitar in every way. "Shuffle, Step & Slide" would not be out of place on a Top album because we have here all the ingredients which ensured the success of the Texan trio at its beginning. We calm a little the game with "Vagabond Man", "small" ballad from under the counter, which allows Billy to remind us that he is not only excellent with the six-string but also with the song with his tone suffused with whisky and smoke ring. We stay mid-tempo with the nagging "Spanish Fly" and its destructured guitars on an almost tribal rhythmic! We come close to the surf music genre or even rocka-billy (without wanting to make an easy pun!) with the very classic "West Coast Junkie" which almost reminds the Stray Cats of the great years... With "Stackin' Bones", we continue to explore other musical shores but always with this guitar and this voice recognizable between thousand and the vocal support of the duo Larkin Poe. "I Was A Highway" is a very ZZ Top blues-rock as we like them. With "S-G-L-M-B-B-R" the tone gets harder, and we find the Billy hard-rock that we appreciate as much. The cover of the Texas Tornados is perhaps the weakest moment of the album with its very linear rhythm and chorus and that even if Billy launches into a superb guitar solo. The album closes with the moment of grace that is "Desert High" for which Billy offers himself to a "spoken word" of any beauty as John Trudell with a plaintive guitar.

Just like its predecessor, this Billy Gibbons solo album is highly recommended to ZZ Top aficionados of course, but also to blues/hard/classic rock fans because they are bound to find something to their liking!



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