Justin Saladino is a Canadian roots/rock guitarist, songwriter and bandleader hailing from Montreal. Leading his own guitar-based outfit, Saladino has been establishing a solid name in the blues, roots and rock circles thanks to his gifted playing and resourceful songwriting. In his short yet prolific career, Saladino has featured on major festivals worldwide and has shared the stage with the likes of Joe Bonamassa and Keb’ Mo’, in addition to possessing a strong, well-received album output. And with the recent release of the full-length Honest Lies, he is adding yet another interesting element to his impressive discography.
Produced by Ariel Posen (The Bros. Landreth) and featuring Saladino’s loyal backing men Gabriel Forget (bass) and Denis Paquin (drums), Honest Lies has the Canadian six-stringer expanding his songwriting skills and cultivating a bigger focus on the blues and rock elements, an approach that also includes accents of country and Americana. This culminates in a more rock-oriented direction in comparison to his previous studio effort A Fool’s Heart (2018), which featured more of an R&B-infused pop sound much in the vein of John Mayer. However, Honest Lies’ rock-based formula is not overly pronounced. The guitars hold in fact more power, and the vocal delivery packs more of a punch, but the overall sound still leans toward softer passages and a song-focused, succinct structure. The lyrics focus on interpersonal relationships, mental health issues and even politics and reflect much of Saladino’s past experiences and how he sees the context in which he is inserted. This recipe complements the album’s organic and genuine sound, creating an intimate atmosphere that brings together both artist and listener.
The record kicks off with the warm, expressive rootsy rocker “Sink Or Swim”, a heartfelt account of Saladino’s struggles during the pandemic, with the soft rock number “Let You Go” following with its dynamic structure and compelling message. Then, the outstanding “Fan The Flames” comes into play and presents more of a modern R&B feel, but makes sure to remain in rock territory thanks to an exceptional, weeping guitar solo.
“Honest Lies” adds a little more intensity and plays out bordering on hard rock, with its remarkable riffs being reminiscent of Led Zeppelin and Free. On the other hand, the ballad “Let Me In Again” leans toward delicate folk-pop and highlights Saladino’s vocal skills as his rich crooning magnetizes the listener. Lastly, “Don’t Worry About It” finishes the record on a strong note, with its country-ish feel and catchy chorus.
Honest Lies is another solid Justin Saladino album and demonstrates his evolution as he explores new musical avenues. Musically engaging and lyrically thoughtful, the record’s intimate and heartwarming approach should appeal to those familiar with the Canadian artist and new listeners alike.
The Review: 8/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Sink Or Swim
– Let It Go
– Fan The Flames
– Let Me In Again
The Big Hit
– Sink or Swim