Forgiven is the third and latest release from Los Lonely Boys, the Grammy-Award winning rock band from Southern Texas — San Angelo to be exact. They created a sound that has been coined as Texican rock and roll. This sound is a style that contains elements of rock and roll, blues, soul, country, and Tejano.
Los Lonely Boys was formed by the Garza brothers in 2000 and consists of Henry on guitar, Jojo on bass, and Ringo on drums. All three contribute to vocals. “Heaven,” from their debut album in 2003, won the Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 2005.
Continuing with their string of success, Forgiven is another quality release for the Garza brothers. To me, the Lonely Boys music tends to fall primarily one of two ways. One, is to the vocals where the song is the thing, and the music is the method to get it there. The song “Heaven” falls into this category. The second is where the music is the focus, and the words are something to hang off of it. These tunes are very much what constitute their blues sound.
The opening track “Heart Won’t Tell a Lie” has a very Stevie Ray Vaughan flavor to it, which is to say hard driving blues. While this is more of the driving music style, the words do have more substance than usual. The title track “Forgiven,” which follows, is of the vocal style. I think it was supposed to come across as a tune in the “Heaven” mold, but it just doesn’t work for me. In fact I think that this is my least favorite on the album.
“Staying with Me” comes back with a vocal style song that works well. The harmonies are there, and the music carries the lyrics. “Loving You Always” is another vocal style track, but with the Texican flavor that makes Los Lonely Boys one of my favorite groups.
“I’m A Man,” the Steve Winwood penned tune, originally done by the Spencer Davis Group and made just as famous by the band Chicago, is a nice diversion for the band and it has a Hendrix style. In this track, the fuzz guitar replaces the organ sound of Winwood. “Make it Better” is reminiscent of a late Beatles tune, and really is the type of song that makes me respect the group as a creative force in their ability to take on new challenges.
“Love Don’t Care About Me” is a soft Texican love song. “Cruel” is a bit more driving, and a darker song with a staccato beat. “You Can’t See the Light” is upbeat, but doesn’t have a lot of meat to it. While it makes a good transition song, it too is a bit light on substance. One interesting point is that it has Dr. John sitting in on the Hammond B3 Organ.
“Superman” comes back with more of a driving blues track. “Another Broken Heart” works well as a Claptonesque blues number that has Dr. John back on Hammond B3 Organ. “The Way That I Feel” brings back the LLB vocals and harmonies with Dr. John this time switching over to Wurlitzer Piano.
I have to confess that I have liked the Los Lonely Boys since I first heard the song “Heaven.” I consider their debut album to be one of the top twenty albums of all time that I would want to have if I were banished to a desert island. It is a combination of their ethnicity in sound, and the honesty in their music that makes me a fan. In twenty or thirty years I would expect to think of them as I think of someone like Carlos Santana — an album or two of his would be on my list as well.
In time, I predict that Henry Garza will be mentioned in the same breath as Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, B.B King, and John Mayall. While they may not make the same impact, the band as a whole reminds me of Clapton’s early days with Cream, only with better lyrics.
Though Forgiven still does not compare to the debut album, I can officially claim that there is no sophomore jinx for the Los Lonely Boys. These guys are a true talent, and have the ability to sustain success as long as they choose. I can very easily highly recommend this album.
Song list for Forgiven
“Heart Won’t Tell a Lie” – 3:51
“Forgiven” – 3:33
“Staying With Me” – 4:01
“Loving You Always” – 2:45
“I’m a Man” – 4:04
“Make It Better” – 3:26
“Love Don’t Care About Me” – 3:30
“Cruel” – 3:44
“You Can’t See The Light” – 3:33
“Superman” – 3:06
“Another Broken Heart” – 3:04
“The Way I Feel” – 2:54