Pete Mancini – Killing the Old Ways
Produced by Drive-By Truckers’ Matt Patton (Bass Guitar/Harmony Vocals) & Bronson Tew (Drums/Harmony Vocals) the 10-cut Killing the Old Ways (Drops April 8–Paradiddle Records) is Pete’s third LP. It has all the right ingredients – rural country atmosphere, rock ‘n roll spice, all intensified by bits of nostalgia, melancholy & haunting sounds (“Patchwork”).
The NY songwriter Pete Mancini (Acoustic/Electric Guitars/Wurlitzer & Vocals) is an adept storyteller much the same as the late John Prine. He mines a vein that explores the fractured environment of today’s America. There are tales of a laid-off couple, a close look at the efficiency of the modern business world (“Madison Avenue Blues”) & character sketches.
The set was recorded in Water Valley, MS & this is where Pete’s vocal charm took shape rather than the harsher New York-influenced sound. Also performing are Schaefer Llana (Harmony Vocals), Horace Willis (Guitar/Harmony Vocals), Jamison Hollister (Pedal Steel-Electric Guitar/Fiddle) & Jay Gonzalez (Synth/Wurlitzer/B3 Organ).
The melodies are basic but the manner in which Mancini threads his lyric through the music allows the songs to be intriguing, enchanting & at times poignant. “Standing In the Shadows,” has a beautiful chorus of voices that lifts the song from just being mundane to being quite special. Mancini sings in a somewhat James Taylor tradition with a touch of solo Paul Simon with a pinch of drama. Now, Mancini doesn’t sound like these singers – he just performs in a similar arc.
“Old Television,” is quite accessible & the video is a great nostalgic walk down memory lane for some. The words are above average “…the past is a movie I don’t want to see.” This song could only be written by someone who understands nostalgia, all things vintage & how sometimes, you have to let it go.
Mancini performs “High Rise Serenade,” touching the lapels of Paul Simon gracefully. A good tune that will raise eyebrows of anyone who is a Simon devotee. The words he’s chosen, the pacing, the way the tale unfolds – all Paul Simon in tradition. However, done with such beauty that there’s no criticism just a smile as you listen. I did.
Still in Paul Simon mode “Don’t Ask (If You Don’t Want To Know),” is more soulful & an excellent tune. There’s an essential sweetness to many tunes. It’s country, but not too country. Maybe it’s the blend of Mancini’s NY roots with the Mississippi environment. It certainly agrees with my ears.
The title track has a soaking fiddle deep & fine. But it’s the way Mancini sings with the female vocalist that’s mindful of the old Mickey & Sylvia mix on “Love Is Strange,” from 1956. Quite good.
Pete is an interesting talent – he has that broad appeal of the best singer-songwriters who have graced our ears for decades.
Photo courtesy of Kelsey Sucena. The CD is available @ Bandcamp + https://petemancini.com/