Lobster Newberg: Actress
Colin Peterik – vocals, keys
Phil Miller – guitars
Corey Kamerman – bass guitar
Jamie Dull – percussion
Steve Eisen – flute, saxes; Howard Levy – harmonica; Mike Chicowitz – trumpet; Dave Stahlberg – trombone; Ed Breckenfield – additional percussion; Klem Hayes – additional bass guitar; Jeff Lantz – brass arrangement; Scott May – guitar solo on “Demian”
Lobster Newberg made a very impressive debut in 2007. As good as it was, most reviewers saw that there was still some growing to do. While unique, the band had not really found its own voice yet. Or perhaps I should say that Colin Peterik had not found his own voice. Lobster Newberg is his project. He is the only composer, and none of the other band members from “Vernal Equinox” appear on this album. The derivative nature of the first album is understandable considering his lineage. His Father, Jim Peterik, is an icon of the era that album reflects (let’s face it, “Vehicle” is a great tune). I am a big fan of “Vernal Equinox,” but I was curious to see if Colin would become more than the sum of his influences, and create something truly original. I am happy to say that on “Actress” he has done just that.
The classic influences are still there, but are not nearly as obvious. The organ heavy, Deep Purple / Atomic Rooster thing has also almost completely been abandoned (almost). Not that it was a bad thing, but there is so much more ground available to cover. This time around he has opted for more acoustic instrumentation. The keyboards are still present, but there is much more piano, horns, and wind (especially flute). The band, although completely recast, is just as strong, if not better than before. There is also a long list of guest musicians. I can see the necessity, as the music here is far more ambitious. I also get the feeling that some Traffic had been played when the ideas were swirling around Peterik’s head. There is a definite jazz-fusion / folky aspect lurking about. Listen to “Stay,” and you’ll hear it right away. The jazz aspect is prevalent in many of the tracks, as well as some other new tricks
There are a few techniques used before that are kept for Actress, and that is good, because they worked. There is another head boppin’ rocker called “Bug City” (this one is so infectious that I will go back and replay it when I am driving). Once again it put me in the mind of the Black Crows, but it’s much funkier. The jam band aspect is still prevalent over the album, but the reigns are even tighter this time around. They also have another unexpected cover with Leon Russell’s Tightrope. I always liked the original, but this treatment is now my favorite. The funky jam it turns into is unbelievable (I think the bass player must have taken some lessons from Flea).
The rest of the tracks show the breadth and depth that were only imagined possible before. “Wonderful” is the poignancy I spoke of when reviewing “Vernal Equinox,” only this time it is developed in full. This is beautifully accentuated by the Traffic inspired flute. “Illusion” is another mellower tune that truly finds Colin Peterik” in his own space (more piano my friend, it suits you well). “Have You Ever Been Alone” is the longest piece, but at only 7:35 can you really call it epic? That’s probably a good thing there was no attempt to stretch it out. It is a far more realized concept than “Wentworth” was on “Vernal Equinox.”
I didn’t want to do a song-by-song analysis this time, because I think “Actress” needs to be taken in as a whole. Is it perfect? Probably not, however the growth here is far and above what most artists strive for from album to album. I would have been happy with just another good Lobster Newberg album. What I got was a different and better album, from an extremely talented group (especially its chief component). I also can’t help the feeling that Colin Peterik’s potential has only just begun to be tapped. I love the music, and am excited to see what the future may bring.