Thin Lizzy/Black Star Riders/Dead Daisies alumni Marco Mendoza has been a busy man throughout his career, as you can tell. But aside for the number of incredible bands and artists he’s worked with, he’s also had a fantastic solo career. New Direction is to be his fourth solo album, released on the 16th of this month. We managed to get our hands on it a little early to see what we think. I can’t wait for this one!
The original album title and lead single, ‘Take it to the Limit’, is up first. An air raid siren sets up a great sleezy riff, harkening back to the 80s immediately with its sound. The riff opens out a little in the verse, the instrumentation taking a more blusey approach. Marco’s voice sounds better than ever, too, a real testament to his commitment to music. The chorus is of course catchy and massive, the backing vocals and big instrumentation filling it all out perfectly. We get another great blues riff for the bridge, the vocals behind reminding me so much of ‘Love in an Elevator’. And of course, we get a fantastic, technical guitar solo. It wouldn’t be hard rock without one! What a track to open with. I loved it and it’s already been on our playlist for a while now.
‘Just Can’t Get Over You’ opens on another blues-inspired riff, giving off LA Guns vibes. It drops down a bit for the verse, being muted and bouncy and a lot of fun with the vocals over the top. The track builds perfectly through an uplifting pre into another huge, catchy chorus. It’s a little more basically layered than the previous track but the vocals are so great it still sticks in your head. We get another fantastic guitar solo too, one that fits the vibe of the song to a T. The final chorus, complete with more lead guitar behind to make it even more epic, ends things on a bang.
‘Light it Up’ opens on steady drums and bass, Marco’s vocals coming in over the top and sounding fantastic. It again builds up as the guitars come in quietly before it all explodes for the choruses. It’s giving off Def Leppard vibes to me, which certainly isn’t a bad thing. The guitars are maybe even catchier than the vocals this time around, too. The guitar solo is off the charts in this track, easily being the highlight one of the album. Also, it dropping back down to just drum and bass for another verse after and building up massively for the final chorus was great. Another playlisted track!
Next, it’s time for a slower one. A slower, cleaner riff plays behind Marco Mendoza ‘s softer vocals. I can hear a lot of The Police, but again it sounds like it inspired it over a cheap copy that some bands do these days. The chorus is absolutely phenomenal, too. It’s one of the biggest stadium-filling choruses I’ve heard this year, and it truly does deserve to be played in front of that many people. Everything about this track is fantastic and I implore you to stop reading this right now and go check it out. You won’t be disappointed!
The next single, ‘Shoot For the Stars’, picks back up the pace a little. The simple riff and vocal combo always works great and here is no exception. It’s still not as quick as the previous tracks but it’s a good soft rock track, nearly a ballad in its own right. It is filled with catchy vocal parts and harmonies, as well as some great lead guitar work. It’s one hell of a choice for a single, everything about it is great!
‘All that I’m Living For’ has a fantastic riff running through it. It’s heavy but definitely an ear-worm too. The low vocals sound great over the top. We even get a key change hidden in the middle which sounded awesome. It leads to yet another huge, great chorus. I can hear in this track where Marco’s influence on Dead Daisies went, this is very much like the last album of theirs he was on. It’s another good track, with Marco channelling his inner Stephen Tyler in the bridge again being a particular highlight.
‘Free Ride’ was a fun 80s throwback track. From the spoken word at the start to the hard rock/sleezy riff, this screamed MTV. Having said, I also thought it could be ripped straight out of Reckless Love’s discography. Both are similar sounds though, and all sound great. In all fairness, so do the following couple of tracks, ‘Can’t Explain It’ and ‘Scream and Shout’. Both are more hard rock than sleaze, but are great, fun tracks too.
Then we reach the final track and the albums title song. Opening on the infectiously catchy chorus vocals and some huge chords, it’s definitely memorable. The track itself stays pretty steady-paced, again coming across as a bit of a hard rock ballad. Given the poignant subject matter of the song, it lends itself well to the sound. Looking for a new direction after the last couple of years definitely resonates with a lot of people, including myself. The chorus is MASSIVE and another stadium-filling highlight of the album. It’s an epic, fantastic way to close an amazing album.
Overall: As I said just, this is amazing. It’s the best solo album Marco Mendoza has done, in this humble writers opinion. There isn’t a bad track on the album and each one has a unique sound, energy and feel. I enjoyed listening to it from start to finish and it kept me interested, something few newer albums seem to do these days. I can’t wait to hear it live and I’mma be listening to this a lot over the next few weeks!
The Score: 8.5/10
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