Track listing: Change In Motion, The Missing Element, Conflicting Ambitions, Under the Cali SunOh yes, Frank Roberts can shred. He can also melodically play the hell out of his jet-black Ibanez.
Formed in the mold of Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Vinnie Moore, and other guitar gods, the Ontario-based Roberts is stepping out from behind the mixing board and putting his own name on this marquee. Having played with others in various line-ups, Frank has taken on Change of Motion as an entirely solo project.
The funky title track starts the 4-song adventure. "Change of Motion" showcases many licks, techniques, and Roberts' full, precise tone. "The Missing Element" is more deliberate and majestic, more Vai in its melodic structure, bringing me back to my own wearing-out of my Passion and Warfare cassette. If there's a rocker on the album, it's "Conflicting Ambitions." Go ahead: bang your head. And wrapping up with a reflective piece, "Under the Cali Sun" channels the 6/8 time and melody lines of Satriani's "Always With Me, Always With You."
If there is any fault to be found in Change of Motion, it's in the originality. While all the songs are Frank's own, there are many guitar heroes with albums. And in the rock genre, it's hard to break new ground. To both his credit and detriment, if you played this album to new ears I'm not sure many could identify it as not being a currently established guitar legend.
As a drummer, I always tip my cap to the guitarist who can find a human drummer good enough to play with metronome precision, as opposed to going the drum machine route as Roberts has. I acknowledge that drummers can be pains in the ass to deal with, but would always prefer to hear sticks-to-heads over electronic backing beats.
All in all, Frank Roberts clearly knows his 6-string shit. He's got stellar technique, the production on the album is full and crystal clear, the mix is well-balanced, and this album stands on its own right alongside those released by Frank's heroes. So if you're into guitar instrumentalists, Frank Roberts is the real deal. Keep an eye out for him in the guitar mags...it wouldn't surprise me at all to see him and Change of Motion featured soon.