Robert Scott “Wino” Weinrich has, over the past 30 years, through sheer grit, determination and above all outstanding talent forged a little corner for himself in the metal world that has become legendary. As front man with St Vitus he played a major role in the sound of modern doom and his bands; The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan and the Hidden Hand as well as his solo album “Punctuated Equilibrium” have all carried his indelible sound and stamp. So now, after all these years cranking the amps and issuing forth a mighty wall of crunch he has now assumed the guise of wandering troubadour and picked up the acoustic for what is a truly solo album.
At first the concept of one of the leading lights of doom producing a (mostly) acoustic album may cause palpitations but it turns out that below the bearded bluster of his amplified work there beats the heart of a true story teller with one foot firmly in the blues. The opening title track is a beautiful folk tinged air that, from the start, displays Wino’s dexterity on the acoustic and allows him to temper his usual bellicose roar into a more subtle, time worn croon. “I Don’t Care” is the blues done Wino style and it’s good to see that, approaching his 49th birthday, age hasn’t distilled his outlaw outlook on life and rock and roll. “Hold on Love” could almost be a pop tune…if it wasn’t being played by Wino!!! The stripped back approach allows him to concentrate more on creating melodies and explore his voice without such great reliance on the mighty riff.
“Mala Suerte” is another blues/folk crossover that sees the acoustic flurries backed up subtly by a fuzzy electric. Actually electric guitar does rear its head quite frequently across the album as he throws in solos with abandon. Initially this seems a little misplaced when considering how strong the acoustic is in its own right but repeated listens somehow make sense of the intrusion and the fact is, Wino’s playing is never less than incredible and the format allows him to play with a greater level of dexterity and feel than his full band workouts may do. “Old and Alone” could almost have come from any one of Wino’s other projects but in acoustic format with a more restrained vocal approach only seems to highlight the tension within the lyrics far more effectively than the outright aggression of his amplified work.
You want surprises? Try an acoustic blues ridden version of Motorhead’s “Iron Horse/Born To Lose”. Where the original brought to life the grease and grime of the life of a Hell’s Angel, Wino’s version serves to instil the song with the fragility and unity of man and bike. Such a curve ball as this succeeds in being a highlight on an album of high marks and ironically from such heavy origins eschews the use of electric guitar…Wino does things his way!!!
On “Suzanne’s Song” Wino is probably at his most articulate and heartfelt without even uttering a single word. This instrumental piece displays a beauty and passion that seems born out of true love and possibly a little sadness…it asks as many questions as it answers. On the next track “DBear” Wino again questions the human condition, his world weary vocals in perfect harmony with the melancholic strains of his guitar. Again the “one man, one guitar” approach works so well and proves that he doesn’t need any more.
“Whatever” picks up the beat and a higher level of optimism. I doubt that Wino would thank me for this but musically this reminds me of “Save Tonight” by Eagle Eye Cherry but when he sings the line “can’t hide the scars on our souls” you know this cuts far deeper than any pop frippery. Another cover, Savoy Brown’s “Shot in the Head” is a fine blues boogie slots right into Wino’s world view with its tale of a life on the rock and roll road…you know he means it when he ad-libs “hand me that bottle”. Rock and roll isn’t all about a wall of amps and drums…it’s in the spirit and Wino has that.
The only track here that I don’t see as totally essential is “O.B.E”. Another instrumental this sees Wino creating soundscapes with layered sustained guitars. While interesting it doesn’t display the heart and soul that makes the rest of this album such and insightful and emotional listen. Even on an acoustic, closing track “Green Speed” is a tense and taught rocker that could easily translate to a full band scenario but somehow the bare format adds to the effect. Just for good measure and to remind us of his day job Wino breaks out the electric and blazes in style to the record’s conclusion…fuck the acoustic purists, this is Wino’s album and he’ll play what the fuck he wants.
Where so many artists of Wino’s age seem content to sit on their laurels and crank out repetitions of their biggest tunes and hit the retro circuit to put food on their tables (or simply give up if they fail), Wino still has something to say, he still has the fire in his belly and a shit load of music waiting to be heard whether it’s by the dedicated few or by rights the unaware majority. Put aside your preconceptions about the man and heavy music in general as this is as heavy as it gets!!!
Scribed by: Ollie Stygall