Texas bluesman “Big Frank” Gomez has known heartache, trouble and a million tears in life, but he can also see a better day. While working on his current album in late 2009 (following the successful release of his band’s 2007 debut project Under the Influence) , Gomez had to face the untimely and tragic death of his only daughter. However, the talented musician with over four decades of experience found the fortitude to deal with those “many moments that we don’t want to talk about.”
Finding new direction, renewal and not living life by what happened yesterday is the theme for his 2011 release Soul Resurrection that demonstrates the exuberant power of Frank Gomez. From start to finish, Gomez presents assertive blues guitar lines on his red Gibson ES-335, and his sterling vocal delivery shows that he’s equally conversant with blues, funk and soul idioms.
As a purveyor of contemporary electric Texas blues, Gomez displays the needed musical diversity to make this nearly all-original set work. He has an innate ability to present various elements of his of musical personality and personal influences, while still soaring to new heights with a sense of discovery. Opening with “Since You’ve Been Gone,” Frank’s resonating guitar style is reminiscent of Albert Collins. “Gift from Heaven” is a smooth instrumental, but the song’s genesis includes some occasional raucous electric guitar interludes that caused me a little angst. In retro fashion, “Our Eyes Never Meet” has Gomez’s soulful voice channeling someone like the 1960s great O.V. Wright, and the horn section accompaniment is pleasant. “Bumpin’ and Thumpin’” has a soft rock blues sound that seems to indicate a Steve Miller Band influence in Gomez’s past. “When I Wake Up in the Morning” should be a favorite among baby boomer soul fans (like me), and it derives inspiration from groups like The Fabulous Thunderbirds or Roomful of Blues. Gomez’s arrangement of the album’s one cover, “Gimme Little Sign,” stays fairly close to that of the classic Brenton Wood soul hit from 1967. It’s always been a favorite song as a pick-me-up: “And when I’m feeling down, wearing a frown/ You be there when I look around.”
The Frank Gomez Band includes nine accomplished players on guitar, bass, drums, percussion, keyboards, piano, sax, trumpet and background vocals. Four additional guests also contribute on some of these same instruments. “Back Door Woman” has delightful soul/funk touches, but would the song have been enhanced with a small horn section? Some other cuts have saxophone and trumpet in the mix, but they’re rather understated. And reminding me of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, could “Mr. Right Now” have been embellished with some wailing blues harp as Gomez picks like guitarist Mike Bloomfield? I guess it’s all a matter of opinion, and musicians do have to resist the temptation to overarrange and overproduce their music. Gomez’s lead guitar work and vocalizing are sturdy, always front-and-center. The accompanists all play with confidence and drive too. Gomez closes Soul Resurrection with a genuinely smokin’ “Funky Beat.” His music covers a broad emotional range from somber to lilting to lively. The wide sonic palette infused with blues, rock and R&B styles results in a wholly contemporary Texas blues amalgam all its own.