Michael Aquino celebrated his incredible new album Giants Will Fall with a release show at the VFW hall in Bloomfield on Sunday.
The album, three and a half years in the making, is a wonderful and varied musical journey that touches on folk, Latin, pop, country and rock. The mixture of all these styles is not disjointed, though. There is a connectivity running through the songs that is held together by excellent musicianship and Aquino’s emotional and honest delivery.
The album opens with the “New Year’s Reprieve,” a gorgeous acoustic guitar instrumental that sets the tone of the record. We then head into “Song of the Outcry” which picks up the pace and we first hear Aquino’s warm, tenor voice. It is a soulful song with excellent bass from David S. Hilton. “Sadie” introduces a heavier guitar sound that reminds me of the funkier side of The Rolling Stones during the Sticky Fingers era. It finishes with an outpouring of great electric guitar from Sue Remus.
Speaking of funky “My Usual Beauty” is an upbeat tune that features some fantastic trumpet from James Doyle. “Before Long” showcases Aquino’s talent for pop inspired tunes and playful songwriting like “it’s a poor man’s copyright that I copied wrong.” A standout track is “Bud, His Astrovan, and Me.” It is a dazzling piece of Americana rock that makes the listener feel as if they are on a road trip across the country. Musically it reminds me of some of the great songs from another wonderful New Jersey band Accidental Seabirds. It features some perfectly placed accordion from Andy Sandel.
The title track is a fast packed rocker with touches of accordion and electric guitar. Aquino turns out some of the most impassioned vocals on the record here. “1890” contemplates age and growing old and has a country feel to it highlighted by some smooth steel guitar from Dave Kleiner. Aquino sings “you are my constant surprise” and the same can be said about this album. It is full of surprises. We come full circle with the instrumental “Triumvir” whose drone guitar and melancholy I think would fit perfectly in a Jim Jarmusch film.
This is a wonderful record from start to finish. There is so much going on here that repeated listens are rewarded by discovering something new each time.
Sunday’s show opener Laree Cisco impressed with his excellent set.
Here are some shots from the record release party.
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