New York native Ted Horowitz, better known as Popa Chubby, is one of the faces of modern blues rock. A “Motörhead meets Muddy Waters” approach to songwriting, biting guitar leads and a taste for theatricality and shock define Chubby as an artist. This tendency to shock includes, of course, not running away from controversy. An example of this is his 2021 album, Tinfoil Hat, which addresses his strong stances on topics such as the pandemic, vaccines, and conspiracy theories. Whether one likes it or not, Horowitz has opinions as forceful as the tone of his guitar and is not afraid to express them. However, Emotional Gangster, his latest release, takes a less politically charged, more light-hearted direction.
Emotional Gangster features all the traits of a classic blues rock album, including covers of key songs such as “Hoochie Coochie Man” and “Dust My Broom”. With Popa playing most of the instruments and handling recording and mixing duties, the record presents few deviations in its approach that focuses on presenting a concise selection of blues rock tracks. In this sense, “Equal Opportunity” can be highlighted. It is an R&B-styled tune that combines slide-guitar leads and hip-hop vocals with lyrics that celebrate the feminine, of course, the Pppa Chubby way. The slightly funky “Doing Ok” also deserves a mention since it also features hip-hop-influenced vocals.
Regarding the songs performed in Chubby’s classic blues rock sound, “Tonight I’m Gonna Be The Man,” a testosterone-filled blues rocker, opens the album impetuously. “New Way Of Walking”, the following song, sticks to the same formula. Furious and potent, the pounding heavy-blues tune presents an infectious chorus and incendiary guitar/harmonica solos, courtesy of Popa and A-list guest Jason Ricci. The emotional ballad “Fly Away” also stands out since it adds a soft touch that lives up to the album’s title.
Emotional Gangster might have benefited from a little more inventiveness at times. Despite this, the album demonstrates the longevity of one of blues rock’s most iconic artists and provides enough elements to please any fan of the genre.
The Review: 7/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Tonight I’m Gonna Be The Man
– New Way Of Walking
– Equal Opportunity
– Fly Away
The Big Hit
– New Way Of Walking