Gipsy Lady

Michael Schenker-Gary Barden
Acoustic Project

Never let it be said Michael Schenker doesn’t know a good thing when he’s found it. With his long-time collaborator/vocalist Gary Barden, he has released the 12-song acoustic CD Gipsy Lady. Although “Lost,” “Dance Lady Gipsy” and “All of My Life” are pretty snappy numbers, they are pretty much cut from the same cloth. Schenker shows off his masterful plucking and Barden does the same with his range. It’s not until “Fight For Freedom,” a rousing little ditty, and the instrumental “El Grande” that things really get moving. The band is into some very creative playing on “Starting Over,” a tune that makes full use of backing vocals, percussionist Kai Luennemann and some fully realized acoustic guitar playing from Schenker.

“Can’t Live On Love Alone” features Michael Voss on rhythm acoustics, backing vocals, keyboards, bass and orchestral arrangements. The song comes a little too close to that popular mid 80s Whitesnake territory, but Schenker’s take is masterful again. Even when a song might be a bit weak on this record, you can’t ignore the guitar playing. There’s some nice piano on “Another Melody,” a sweeping ballad that might be Baden’s best lyric on Gipsy Lady. For me, “Hungry” is by far the best tune here. The melody soars, Barden is in compete control of the melody (he really pushes his voice), the backing vocals slide in perfectly, and the chorus is catchy. “The Journey,” an instrumental, ends the CD. Here, Schenker perfectly provides great melody lines, slight bending, precise playing and color, color color.

Over the course of Gipsy Lady, the playing is spot-on and Schenker and Barden compliment each other like hand and glove. The tunes might come across as too repetitious at times because Barden reportedly wrote most of the lyrics off the top of his head, employing many of the same themes. Fortunately, everything else rescues these minor points. Listening to this record, I’m reminded of what Ritchie Blackmore is into these days, albeit with a much more medieval slant. Still, it’s great to hear guys like Blackmore and Schenker play and arrange their music around an acoustic guitar. Hopefully, we’ll get a fllow-up to Gipsy Lady from Michael Schenker and Gary Barden somewhere down the road.

~ Ralph Greco, Jr.

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