Photos By HEATHER HARRIS and Review By HARRIET KAPLAN
Gabriel is an energetic, animated and passionate singer-songwriter and performer.
The Latin-American artist, who wore a T-shirt with the words “Bad Hombre” emblazoned across his chest, is clearly proud of his heritage and is a man with a message in more ways than one.
He commanded, grabbed and held the audience’s attention throughout his brief but memorable half-hour set at Harvard and Stone. The focus of the show was a release party for Gabriel’s latest EP, Love Lives Here.
Every number played had the requisite hooks and a comfortable feel. The songs sounded familiar in a good way but are definitely marked by true original vision. Gabriel’s musical style is pure rock and roll with an Americana vibe. There is a slight bit of a twist that doesn’t neatly fit specific categorization.
His rough-hewn, gruff vocals powered each song giving them their intensity, urgency and powerful meaning to each lyric sung. A notable comparison, if one must be made, would be Bruce Hornsby and John Cougar Mellencamp. Both artists are known for their gritty chops.
Where Gabriel really shined the most is when he just cut loose and sang his heart out. Otherwise, the material, that is both topical and personal, fell into a more middle of the road groove. At times, they just sounded redundant. The same could be said while listening to the new EP where the vocal performances, though engaging for the most part, tended to lag and wane periodically.
Nonetheless, the subject matter revealed in the songs has potent commentary that is relevant, thought-provoking, compelling and heartfelt. Through song, Gabriel recognizes we live in troubled, confusing and chaotic times. He addresses them in “Boy With A Gun,” Take Me To Heaven,” “Love Lives Here and “Whose Life.” On the lighter side of the musical spectrum, Gabriel offers up something more romantic and intimate like “Baby It’s You” and “Another Night.”
Gabriel was supported by a strong, talented full band lineup onstage that included the propulsive drumming of Tony Matteucci of The Dogs. They really brought the entirety of the total sound and package together giving the song arrangements their dynamic sonic gravity.
Bands and artists tend to come and go. They pass through without leaving much of a mark or impression. Gabriel is different. He has been in the music industry a long time. Gabriel has come up in the club circuit and is very respected. He is a bold musician that continues to refine his craft and art. This record release party at Harvard and Stone is part of that growth, maturity and evolution. It’s a new chapter for Gabriel. For anyone in the audience it was exciting to watch unfold as he performed live and be there to experience it.