Toronto’s own Vince Hawkins & Company Slave return with the sophomore release – Roads to Freedom. Vince is clearly a talented guitar player but this album leans much more to the late ’70s early ’80s rock genre than his last album. You can clearly hear the influences of artists like Pat Travers, Robin Trower, and Black Sabbath.
The album starts off with “Neighbor.” A riff driven track drenched in reverb and echo effects where Vince’s voice hits some piercing clear tones on the high parts in the chorus that have a bit of Ronnie James Dio clarity to them. “Mother Nature” is next and lays down a heavy bass line that drives the pace of the song while Vince lays down a couple of short, intense solos. Next we get the wah-wah heavy cover of Hendrix’s “Room Full of Mirrors.” The next two tracks “Rock And Roll Is What We Know” and “Evil B Knocking” sort of sum up the overall feel of this album. These guys clearly can lay down the old school rock with an evil distorted sound.
Another influence is evident when they cover ZZ Top’s “Koko Blue” (1972). This is definitely a modern update in terms of sound and intensity from the very early ZZ recording. Vince reaches way back again and covers The Creation’s “Making Time” (1966). Talk about a song that could use a sonic upgrade. Well this was it and Vince does it justice. Time for a history lesson – Some prominent members of The Creation went on to bigger and better things including Kenny Pickett (eventual guitar tech for Jimmy Page), Kim Gardner (Ashton, Gardner, and Dyke), Mick Avery (Kinks) and Ronnie Wood (Rolling Stones). After that great remake we get another fast packed rock track with “Just Ain’t Right” and then the last cover tune – The Beatle’s “Taxman.”
Things slow down considerably with the last two tracks. “Misty Color Rainbow” has the full luscious sound of his guitar without losing the hard dirty rock sound that the rest of the album has been filled with. Everything wraps up with the acoustic “Broke Down Soul” where Vince lays it bare.
If you’re looking for a modern update to the classic ’70s-’80s rock sound that laid the foundation for what we listen to today, then this is a good album for you. Vince’s sound is clearly a hard hitting in your face rock reminiscent of his influences yet won’t leave you wanting to shelf it from a lack of sensibility.
The Review: 7/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Koko Blue
– Rock and Roll is What We Know
– Mother Nature
The Big Hit
– Mother Nature
Review by Kevin O’Rourke