John DeNicola – She Said
After 5 decades in music, the award-winning artist John DeNicola recorded his first solo LP in 2019. Known for co-writing the popular 1987 Bill Medley-Jennifer Warnes hit “(I Had) The Time of My Life,” from the film “Dirty Dancing” John remains a serious songwriter with a commercial pop style that maintains a suave way of not losing essential soulful ingredients.
So, if a well-crafted pop song is your forte over the cookie-cutter Top 25 variety John’s new self-produced 10-cut LP — She Said (Drops Nov 5-Omad) will satisfy.
It’s filled with strong melodies, however, DeNicola’s multi-instrumental expertise in this genre is what really shines. There are blemishes but not many. John seldom dips a naked musical toe into mediocrity, cliches & sappiness. There are many good tunes here.
Cut 2 “Love Divine,” is sung with cool Kenny Rankin finesse that would warrant FM radio play with its sparkling DeNicola lead guitar. John knows how to balance his vocals between his regular colorful voice, some falsetto & energizes the melody line. The tune has a pleasant sitar for brightness & a wonderful chorus of voices.
I prefer DeNicola’s regular vocal tone to the lusher approach & soulful falsetto. That’s me. Songwriting, he instinctively has good ideas that don’t follow a lame mainstream path. It seems he would be an ideal writer for an artist of the caliber of Aaron Neville. The addition of synths in some songs (blemish), sometimes subtracts from the quality of the song’s poignancy. Fortunately, DeNicola didn’t use this often.
“High,” has a soothing tone & strings (synths). A bit too 70s oriented the way white soul singer Bobby Caldwell (“What You Won’t Do For Love”) was. “Float On Hope,” is a more potent groove. John lays down his guitar, effects, & impressive vocals in a Tony Carey/Planet P Project’s Pink World style (1984). He provides a flexible progressive-rock ala contemporary music mix with a pertinent guitar showcase.
Turning toward Canadian Bonnie Dobson’s “Morning Dew,” John’s more robust tone translates the gem into one of his best vocals. Blake Fleming’s tight drums spray musical fills & beats. John’s guitar soars & Brad Davidson’s bagpipes are a nice touch. This is far more dynamic vocally for DeNicola. Excellent.
There are multiple musicians who made contributions. Always solid & varied. John provides varied moods, atmospheres & grooves throughout. I’d just suggest diluting the synths. Small blemish. Many warm savoring John melodies are rich, but they compete with the electronic instrumental brushes & treated vocal effects.
“Breathe Deep,” is wonderful. The electronic waves should be eliminated to enhance the early beauty of the melody & vocals. Toward the end, the electronics would work dramatically better in the short instrumental break to its finale.
Classy CD cover photo: Steen Svensson. Color photo courtesy: Casey Steffans.
The 42-minute CD: available @ https://johndenicola.hearnow.com/she-said &