Lithuanian composer, producer, arranger, guitarist, and singer Robertas Semeniukas recently dropped a new album, entitled Backstage Stories, a collection of 20-tracks, of which 12 are instrumentals, with eight vocal tracks, including a cover of Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “You Gotta Move.”
Right up front, know this: Backstage Stories is superlative.
Commenting on the album, Semeniukas says, “As a musician and guitarist I used to play and record with the different bands and artists for many years. But deep inside I carried a passion and vision that I would record and perform as a solo artist. It took me many years to finally pursue recording a solo album which would have plenty of guitar compositions and my vocal could be heard. For this album I was inspired by my guitar heroes – Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Jeff Beck, Slash, Guns N’ Roses, Queen, Metallica, Van Halen, Led Zeppelin and many others.”
Backstage Stories features the talents of Robertas Semeniukas (guitars, vocals), Jonas Lengvinas (drums), and Tadas Zukauskas (bass).
Semeniukas’ catalog of collaborations and festival performances goes beyond extensive and enters the realm of the never-ending, from China to Texas, including the USA, Canada, Austria, Norway, Great Britain, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Poland, Russia and other European countries.
At the present time, Robertas is working with Marijonas Mikutavičius, as well as Veronika Povilionienė, the most famous folk singer in Lithuania.
The first track on the album is “Kai nieko nebelieka,” featuring Kastetas, and opens on a searing blues-flavored guitar flowing into hip-hop-lite vocals riding a surging, rolling trap-lite rhythm.
Highlights include “Flying High,” traveling on dirty potent rock guitars discharging dazzling licks, as Semeniukas struts his talent on his axe. The harmonic flow of the tune conjures up reminiscences of Joe Satriani, with its tantalizing finessed tonal hues, along with brawny dynamics.
“Killer Boogie From China” features Mr. Belkin and delivers blistering blues-infused boogie woogie akin to ZZ Top in their early days. The braying of the harmonica on this track imbues the tune with wicked colors.
The cover of “You Gotta Move” exudes thick treacly blues, oozing and viscous, as Semeniukas’ drawling melancholic voice injects the lyrics with impeccable gospel hues. On “Eat My Dust,” opening on dark heaving guitars, Semeniukas positively tears it up on his guitar with hot licks from Dante’s Ninth Circle of Hell.
“Dream Song” and “Šilo kopa” might be my favorite tracks on the album because of their creamy wafting flow and gleaming textures, displaying not only Semeniukas’ subtle touch on the guitar but his elegant flair.
Wonderfully wrought, Backstage Stories displays numerous sonic suggestions, along with the superb guitar virtuosity of Robertas Semeniukas. He is definitely one of the best guitarists alive.