Often reviewing music can be tricky, particularly when it is hard to find an interesting starting point, when nothing new or interesting is being offered up. Growing Wild presents a challenge for exactly the opposite reason. With so many intriguing musical ideas and genre-hopping approaches going on before your ears it is difficult to know just where to start.
Well, let’s start with three words… Instrumental, guitar and rock. That’s pretty safe ground but the charm of the album comes from the generic paths along which that template is allowed to wander and evolve. This isn’t just the same old Vai-esque hard rock indulgence, this is hard rock given wings and a license to fly. And if you think that the lack of vocals is likely to diminish the appeal of the music, one listen to songs like Buffalo Jump and particularly Backroad Ride where the guitar melody is used like a voice and effected washes take the place of harmony vocals, is enough to set those preconceptions straight.
What this instrumental approach does promote is a less song orientated feel that vocals would demand and a more cinematic journey, one that wanders the dynamic scale from simple emotive blues to soaring progressive rock hypnotics, from the power-pop melodicism of lead single Technicolor to the funky grooves of The North End.
Growing Wild is the Canadian guitarists 6th album, so it is obvious that Slang knows what it’s all about and the ability to take such an established style as hard rock on a journey of exploration through new metal, jazz, blues, funk and pop pastures is obviously why he has maintained such a successful career.