The first thing that you notice after listening to Robert Valdes' Out of the Shadows is that Mr. Valdes is one hell of guitar player. Unfortunately, I have never been a fan of guitar heavy, straight forward, rock, but I pride myself on giving credit where credit is due, and the guitar playing on this album is quite good. I do feel like I am trapped in one long guitar solo throughout the entire album, which is bad, but it's a quality solo, which is good.
However, once you get past the guitar solos there isn't much left on this album that doesn't scream either midlife crisis or that Robert Valdes obviously doesn't know what decade it is. The question is where do I start? How about with the album cover itself; a photograph of a guitar, and an out of focus Robert Valdes hiding in the shadow (Out of the Shadows… I get it). Now, the album itself makes it apparent that the Fender that is in focus is his best friend, but this cover isn't exactly something that is going to jump off the shelf and into my hand. This album looks like something my kinda wacky uncle might pick up, but he lives in a mud house in New Mexico, but it that's Robert Valdes' target audience, then more power to him. Another problem I had with this album, visually, was the odd blue tint on the back of the CD. For some reason I have become accustom to most CD releases, that come with full artwork, and a press kit, to have a silver back, but that could just be my high standards shinning through again.
On to the music. Trendy it isn't, but it is good old Rock & Roll. The only problem with that is the word "old." The vocals are not the star of this album, and come to think of it neither are the lyrics. At one point on "I Want Your Love" the vocals hit a note so high and screechy that I don't even think Bob could have hit it with his guitar. "Hypnotized" makes me yearn for the days of the late 80s and early 90s when you couldn't turn on the radio without hearing a rock ballad. The screams of "Yeah, YEah, YEEAAAAH," do bring a smile to my face though. The lyrics are supposedly the "culmination of 5 years of reflection, meditation and soul-searching," and after listening to the album I've decided that Mr. Valdes is in love, and he really wants to be with this person that he loves. Also, someone has lost control on "Lost Control," and now nobody's there. I do, however, want to stress again that the guitar on the album does show a lot of promise, and perhaps that is what Robert Valdes' goal was, and he didn't think that a solo guitar album, without vocals, would sell too well. The last track on the album, "Alone in the Dark," is the one track on the album that supports this theory, since it is just a guitar instrumental track. This track, along with all of the others, emphasizes his ability to rock out on his guitar, unfortunately, there is nothing to distract my A.D.D. inspired attention span for the three minutes and twenty-five seconds that the track continues on.
This isn't necessarily an album for today's "college" audience or younger, who might be concerned with their "image" or who's hot today. This is a good album for fans 80s rock (Van Halen, Poison, Whitesnake, ect.) whose favorite bands aren't necessarily together, or putting out new music. Robert Valdes is a very good substitute for those ears. For the rest of us, Out of the Shadows may only be good for a trip down memory lane (if you can remember back that far). One might also be able to look at this album as ahead of its time since we are due for an 80s revival in the next few years. Look out spandex, here comes Generation Y.
Who knows though, I could be really off on this one, Santana is still around playing the same sound as this, but he does have other people singing on his album, perhaps an idea that Mr. Valdes might want to consider for any future releases, or marketing plans.
Jason Cipriano is an Assistant Editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.