Slowly becoming a household name amongst the classic metal sect, Scottish wailer Doogie White has been found front and center for heritage acts such as RAINBOW, YNGWIE MALMSTEEN'S RISING FORCE, TANK and most recently, Michael Schenker. White has helmed other acts such as CORNERSTONE, EMPIRE and MIDNIGHT BLUE, laid down solo pieces and contributed session work to Ian Paice and the late Jon Lord. Thus it would appear this is a man whose laurels seldom get rested.
LA PAZ is another one of White's affiliates and now on the band's second album, "The Dark and the Light", they continue to ride the rails of a hard rock nostalgia train that caters largely to old-schoolers. For others, "The Dark and the Light" will perhaps come off as merely pedestrian.
Kickback tunes such as "Little Black Book of Songs", "Old Habits Die Hard" and "The Good Old Days" open up Doogie White's propensity to reminisce. Those who come from his walk of life are bound to pop open a longneck and pine along with him. The affectation of these tracks depends upon a certain demographic, albeit the DEEP PURPLE-kicked kink behind "Old Habits Die Hard" stands to appeal to tail chasers of any age bracket.
On the flipside, more power metal-oriented songs such as "Devil in Disguise" and the slower-dealing though intricate "Men of War" are grabbers for any metal purists. "The Dark and the Light" also boasts a pair of flamboyant instrumental interludes, a fugue organ solo from Andy Mason, "De la Luz" and the somber finale, "The Fallen".
The main tone LA PAZ projects on this album, however, is straightforward blues rock. What they do is agreeable if not earth-shattering. "Don't Drink With the Devil" attempts to be calamitous but falls a click shy, while the intended sexuality slithering behind "Burlesque" is barely lascivious enough to make the grade. "Shadow of Romance" shambles instead of struts, while "Sweet Little Mistreated" kicks the groove up a notch, but only to slight favor.
Doogie White frequently chimes like Ian Gillan throughout "The Dark and the Light" and there are enough DEEP PURPLE subtleties lurking throughout the album. It's a pale shade, though, even if LA PAZ as a collective are sharp musicians. Chic McSherry cuts some nifty licks and solos. Drummer Paul McManus knows the meaning of rock steady. Alex Carmichael and Andy Mason become their own rhythm section at times. The brass shucks in the middle of "Shadow of Romance" are a slick move. Yet there's something LA PAZ is holding back. When the smooth, funky syncopation of "Lonely Are the Brave" is one of the best maneuvers on a hard rock album, there's room for self-analysis, depending on the band's overall objective.
Of course, one gets the impression that the two albums these artists have whipped up together aren't meant to be taken too seriously. They ring like they were done for kicks and let those come to them who will. There's no question Doogie White and LA PAZ are tight, but if there's a next round to come, a little more urgency will be in order.