Album Review — The Winery Dogs

Dave Maturo
3 min readFeb 8, 2023

The Winery Dogs — III

It’s hard to believe the last studio record The Winery Dogs released was in 2015. But here we are, almost eight years later and they are back with their third release, aptly titled “III”. All the members have been busy with other projects but the band finally got together to write and record the new record.

This is a big release so it’s time for a track by track review…

“Xanadu” — The first single off the record is exactly what you’d expect from the band. It showcases the fantastic musicianship of all three players with Kotzen’s bluesy voice leading the way. It has all the same energy and feel as the first two records. A great start.

“Mad World” — This one starts with another bluesy riff but settles in to sound more like a Kotzen-era Mr. Big tune. I really like this one as it features all the great musicianship but it falls within the confines of the well crafted song.

“Breakthrough” — From the first listen this track grabbed me. After 4–5 listens through the record I can say that this is my favorite Winery Dogs track that they’ve released. It’s another track that could have fit right in on a Mr. Big record. It’s an early contender for song of the year. It’s that good.

“Rise” — This one is a little more jam-centric from the start. When you have these three quality musicians you need to have a couple of tracks like this one. Billy Sheehan’s bass playing is all over this one and drives the track. But we also get a big chorus that really works.

“Stars” — This one checks in at six minutes. It starts with a groovy bassline and Kotzen’s voice in a lower register in the verses. But once out of the verses Kotzen’s voice soars and the chorus is really strong. Another really cool track.

“The Vengeance” — The album is flying by as we pass the halfway point. This track slowly builds in the opening verse but then hits with another great chorus. I feel like this record has bigger hooks than the two previous records. Another really strong track that keeps getting better each time I hear it.

“Pharaoh” — We get a little more bluesy on this one with a little less of a catchy chorus. Another song that features some fantastic work from Sheehan as continues to show that he’s the preeminent bass player in all of rock. And Kotzen’s solo reminds us that Sheehan isn’t the only star player in this band.

“Gaslight” — This one blazes from the very start. Musically, this sounds like one of those classic Mr. Big jams that we’ve heard on just about every record. Kotzen’s puts his own vocal spin on it to make this a Winery Dogs track, but it’s roots scream Mr. Big.

“Lorelei” — This is the closes track to a ballad on the record. This one is quite bluesy which suits Kotzen’s voice so well. Kotzen explores a higher vocal range in the chorus on this moody track.

“The Red Wine” — The album closes with a nearly eight minute track celebrating the band’s drink of choice. In keeping with the feel of the record, it’s both jammy and catchy which is incredibly hard to pull off. A fine finish to a great record.

I really liked the first two Winery Dogs records but “III” definitely surpasses the first two for me. All three members are fantastic musicians that are able to show off their skills but not at the expense of the songs. There are some monsters choruses on this record which is something that I think the first two records lacked a little.

If you haven’t checked out this record yet it’s definitely worth your time. If you are a fan of any of the projects/bands that any of these guys have played in I have to imagine you will really like this record.

It’s quite early in the year but I’m going to guess that this record will be a legit contender for my top spot at the end of year.

95 out of 100

Track Listing

01. Xanadu
02. Mad World *
03. Breakthrough *
04. Rise
05. Stars*
06. The Vengeance *
07. Pharaoh
08. Gaslight *
09. Lorelei
10. The Red Wine *

*Best Songs

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