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CD REVIEW: "Down Wires" by Anthony D'Amato

By Gary Wien


CD REVIEW: "Down Wires" by Anthony D'Amato
4 Stars (out of 4)

One of the greatest compliments I can give an artist is to say that I believe they carry the spirit of John Lennon in their work. Anthony D'Amato carries that spirit. He's got that Lennonistic ability to be daring musically through different styles while offering provocative and insightful lyrics that can inspire or make one truly think. He's also got John's ability to tear down the walls and strip everything down to its bare skeleton -- revealing one's true essence, warts and all. On Anthony's latest release, "Down Wires", the young songwriter continues his progression as one of the most impressive talents of his generation. It's a journey that I am thoroughly enjoying. One reason why I listen to so much new music is because there is something magical about discovering artists while they are just beginning to hit their creative stride. Anthony had a coming out party with his last release and "Down Wires" shows he's just getting started.

The record floats in and out of a mix of rockers, ballads, and adventurous tunes. It's a blend that reminds me an awful lot of Lennon's wonderful, "Imagine" album. As with "Imagine", this album contains a few masterpieces of its own. Songs like "My Father's Son", "Let Me Tell You Something", "Down Wires", and "Once" are all amazing tracks. "California Girls (Ain't So Great)" pokes fun of one of rock and roll's favorite bits of imagery and even calls out The Beach Boys to "get it straight -- California girls ain't so great". The track, "Southern Stars", may be one of the most radio friendly songs I've ever heard from Anthony and one that should find lots of radio airplay along with "One Good Time", an upbeat rocker that features the Canadian star Sam Roberts on backing vocals. But it's a trio of tracks -- "Ballad of the Undecided", "Holy War", and "Never Grow Old" that are the true masterpieces in my opinion.

"Holy War" is flat out brilliant. It's an instant classic and the best song about war I've heard since Rick Barry penned "Courage for a Rainy Day" several years ago. Featuring beautifully melodic guitar, wonderful harmonica, and crushingly honest lyrics that makes its point extremely clear, it's a song I sincerely hope finds a wide audience.

"Captain, captain, my aim is true
Shot those men like you told me to
Because they don't pray the way we do
Captain, captain, my aim is true

But I don't know
what I'm fighting for
And I don't know
What to feel no more
And I don't know
Why they bother keeping score
‘cause there ain't no winners in a holy war"

-"Holy War"

In "Never Grow Old", Anthony displays his true Lennon spirit. The song contains a narrator who doesn't feel like he's part of the world around him. It's a scenario that is all too familiar to me and probably is to many fans of Lennon as John was the ultimate outsider. Lennon often wrote amazingly personal songs that reflected on his place as one who didn't quite fit in ("Nowhere Man", "Help!", and "In My Life" quickly come to mind) and many of those songs were written when John was around the same age as Anthony. On "Never Grow Old", Anthony recognizes the world collapsing around him; yet, he clings to the hope that he can still hold on to the innocence of his youth.

"I'm gonna shout
I'm gonna scream
I'm gonna go out and maybe lose my body
I wanna run
Into a dream
I wanna wake up in a world that wants me
Ohhhh, promise me we'll never get old
Run away and never come home"

--"Never Grow Old"

Later in the song, the narrator sounds a wakeup call -- desperately trying to reach people or possibly find someone who is like himself, so he'd know he wasn't purely alone.

"Brothers awake, sisters awake
Why can't you see, we're just the same?
Lovers awake, sinners awake
Why can't you see, we're just the same?
Mothers awake, children awake
Why can't you see, we're just the same?
Brothers awake, sisters awake
Why can't you see, we're all the same?

--"Never Grow Old"

It's an amazingly daring song that succeeds. I absolutely love how Anthony is not only unafraid to take chances with his music, but finds a way to succeed more often than not. As with Lennon, he has that rare ability to do craft songs that blend two worlds (or two songs) into one. It makes for truly powerful songs.

The opening track of the record is "Ballad of the Undecided" -- a blistering rocker that sends the message Anthony is not content to be known simply as a folk artist. As he does throughout the record, this song contains killer lines like "I'm not religious, I just like playing God" that really stay with you. It's a trait Anthony has developed well.

"I'm not your lover just because I spend the night
I'm not a liar just because I'm never right
I'm not accustomed to adjusting any of my thoughts
I'm just a man who doesn't know what he wants"

-"Ballad of the Undecided"

I'd say Anthony knows exactly what he wants and it's wonderful to see him succeed this way. It's always a bit difficult reviewing his work because he used to write for my magazine many years ago. I've not only known him for a long time, but have seen him grow -- both as a writer and songwriter. Releases like "Down Wires" bring a smile to my face because Anthony is the kind of guy you want to see succeed. He's not just a good guy, but I think he's got something important to say and it shows through his music. I'm not trying to compare him to Lennon, but he has that spirit. It's the kind of spirit that can do great things...



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NJSO presents 2019 Winter Festival, 'Music Speaks'
(NEWARK, NJ) -- A trio of renowned guest artists with distinct musical voices—pianists Emanuel Ax and Daniil Trifonov and soprano Dawn Upshaw—headline the NJSO’s Winter Festival, “Music Speaks,” in January 2019. The Orchestra’s signature artistic event takes place across three weekends, January 10–27, in six New Jersey venues.
RVCC Chorale to Perform Annual Holiday Concert on December 8th
(BRANCHBURG, NJ) --The RVCC Chorale will give its annual holiday concert on Saturday, December 8 at 8:00pm in the Welpe Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College’s Branchburg campus. The program will feature Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantata, Das Neugeborne Kindelein, as well as a cappella pieces from by Sergei Rachmaninov, Zoltan Kodaly and Giuseppe Verdi. The program also will include an audience singalong of traditional carols.
Classic Stones Live! The Complete Rolling Stones Tribute Show Comes To SOPAC
(SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) -- The Rolling Stones, the greatest Blues band of all time, couldn’t make it to SOPAC on their 2018 tour. Instead, the acclaimed tribute band Classic Stones Live! makes an appearance on the SOPAC stage December 15 at 8:00pm for those who like to hear their Rolling Stones hits live.
Tony Trischka Presents "Of a Winter's Night" at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- Of a Winter’s Night is Tony Trischka's acoustic celebration of the holiday season. Based on his CD release of the same name, this concert features Trischka’s considerable melodic inventiveness on a wide variety of seasonal tunes. He turns his inventiveness loose on bluegrass and Americana music for the holidays. This one of a kind concert will take place at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship on Saturday, December 8 at 7:30pm.
Idle Wave To Hold Record Release Party At Asbury Park Brewery
(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- Pop-punks Idle Wave will celebrate the release of their self-titled EP on Saturday, December 1st at Asbury Park Brewery.  The record release show also includes performances by Skyeline, Roderick, and Pollyanna.


"An Amazing Musical Genius!" Brian Wilson LIVE! at the State Theatre
In the music room in the back of our house, there’s an electric bass and amp, two acoustic guitars, a microphone and PA speakers, several pieces of music recording equipment, and a bookcase filled with books on music, not to mention a slew of assorted music memorabilia. But, perhaps, one of the most highly prized items in the room is hanging directly above the piano next to the college music diplomas.
Jazz Saxophonist Don Braden LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s a breezy day for a new installment of the Jazz On a Sunday Afternoon concert series at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center of the Arts this Sunday Oct. 27, 2018 afternoon. Today’s special 3pm performance is entitled Earth, Wind and Wonder and is presented by jazz saxophonist Don Braden.
Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge LIVE! at The Strand, Lakewood
The stars are out this Saturday Oct. 26, 2018 evening in Lakewood, NJ for a “Golden Oldies” concert featuring Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge!
PODCAST: Grammy Winner Terri Lyne Carrington At TD James Moody Jazz Festival
Drummer, leader, and composer Terri Lyne Carrington made history as the first woman to win a Grammy for Best Instrumental Jazz for her album “Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue.” Now, she brings her interpretation of Duke Ellington’s “Money Jungle” to the TD James Moody Jazz Festival at NJPAC on November 11, 2018, as part of a program called “Jazz Vinyl Revisited.” Producer Susan Wallner talks to Carrington about her connections to the jazz greats Clark Terry and Max Roach; her newest project, the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice; and why she thinks drummers make natural leaders.
Sha Na Na LIVE! at the Newton Theatre
The audience is streaming into the Newton Theatre auditorium in Newton, NJ this Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 for a live concert starring Sha Na Na!










Event calendar
Thursday, Nov 15, 2018


MUSIC

New Politics @ House of Independents, Asbury Park - 8:00pm

THE REPUTATIONS @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

TOTO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm


THEATRE

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 7:30pm

ANNIE, The Musical @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 8:00pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 7:30pm

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 7:30pm

Spring Awakening: The Rock Musical @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 8:00pm







DANCE

PARSONS DANCE @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm


FILM

Crybaby Matinee: March of the Penguins @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 11:00am

View all events
























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