Chicago guitarist, Brian Lupo’s self-released solo debut “INTO THE SUN” (2022) is a well-crafted song cycle, inspired by both true life events and more than 2 decades spent backing some of Chicago’s top Blues artists including Nora Jean Wallace, Big James Montgomery, and Omar Coleman. The album was produced by Pete Galanis.
The album opener, “Snowing in Chicago” sets the tone for the whole funky affair with Lupo detailing his move from Chicago to Las Vegas following a painful break-up with his longtime girlfriend. After relocating to Las Vegas, Lupo made his living as a professional poker player. The funky groove recalls Junior Wells’ classic “Broke & Hungry” and is anchored by Lupo’s dynamic rhythm section – bassist Vic Jackson and drummer Dionte Skinner. The song also serves as a showcase for Lupo’s searing guitar leads. “If You Need Somebody” and “Feeling Low” are both mid-tempo Soul tunes. These compositions reflect the years that Lupo spent playing in the bars and private social clubs of Chicago’s tough Westside behind the great vocalist and local legend Willie D. “Hey Hey” is a stone groover featuring Lupo’s trademark “chickin pickin” Funk rhythm playing. The lyrics feature a plea to his longtime lover – “miss ya, need ya, love ya, gotta getcha back.” “Matter of Time” is reminiscent in style and tone to some of Robert Cray’s best work – featuring soulful backing vocals and optimistic lyrics. Lupo sings “I feel the sunshine on my face and my mind is in a real good place.” Things are looking up; a reconciliation now seems imminent.
“Good Things” is one of the strongest songs on the album. The arrangement and Lupo’s guitar work bring to mind the late Johnny “Guitar” Watson. Again, the years Lupo spent absorbing the sights and sounds of Chicago’s Westside can be heard in the grooves. “Turn Around” includes a fantastic piano solo from guest keyboardist, Sumito Ariyoshi a.k.a “Ariyo” (a longtime member of Billy Branch & The Sons of Blues) while “Coming Home” is a soulful ballad in the vein of Van Morrison’s classic “Tupelo Honey.” The album closes with the Blues rocker “Back to Chicago” in which Lupo chronicles his long awaited return to the Chicago Blues game and making the rounds in the local clubs (including a stop at Rosa’s Lounge.) The song brings it all back home and completes Lupo’s song cycle. “INTO THE SUN” (2022) is a promising solo debut from one of Chicago’s favorite sons.