The confident, muscular Eyes of the City testifies to Vince Agwada’s experience as a musician, songwriter, and producer. It’s a back-to-basics slab of modern Blues with a gritty Chicago edge. The slick (but not too slick) album opener “It’s a Shame” gives listeners an idea of what to expect. Agwada’s rhythm section is top-notch, particularly on “Does it Really Matter?” where perky music contrasts with gloomy lyrics, and “Bottle,” where drummer Brian Jones plays a curiously timed shuffle that almost sounds backwards. Agwada’s guitar work is another strength, and he can be forgiven for getting showy at times: He’s been in the business long enough to have earned it and is good enough to pull it off. The simple structure of the instrumental “I’m Coming Home” gives Agwada plenty of room to cut loose, and he stretches out on the slower numbers too, especially “Ellie” and “Hard to Cry”. Most of the lyrical themes run in time-honored courses: finding love, losing it, pretending to have it, and not wanting it. Agwada does get slightly political on “Tubed Out,” in which an aural collage of recent news broadcasts serves as a backdrop for a complaint that the world has become too complicated — possibly the first ever Blues song about information overload. The title track is the exception to this album’s overall tone; with programmed rhythm tracks and a bowed upright bass backing a somber, reflective meditation on an urban night, it’s both a love song and a plea in a sadder, quieter mode than the rest of the satisfying Eyes of the City.
–Genevieve Williams – Blues Revue January 2009