Don McCloskey – The Chaos and the Beauty
This starts off like old-fashioned creative 60s melodic upbeat fun & inspired music by actor/singer-songwriter Don McCloskey. He certainly knows how to twist off some musical treatments that unfold like waves in the ocean.
“I IV V” is superb & is the lead-off track from Don’s new 10-cut The Chaos and the Beauty (Drops April 29-Lemon Hill). Produced by Devin Greenwood in his Brooklyn studio the vibe sometimes delves into the areas Paul Simon explored on “Graceland.” Don’s music emphasizes cool drums, percussion & sounds that sweeten the performance. Nothing too intense or difficult but it’s the well-arranged sensitivity that makes many of the songs attractive.
“Unbecoming,” has a classy single cover. Very Victorian in appearance. The music is mindful of the light-hearted pop sensibilities that made the late-career Beatles music intriguing. Tints of Stackridge/Korgis (2 related bands George Martin produced) that dabbled in melodic excursions of crazily creative songs played in delicious, variegated measures. This is a beautiful song – excellent arrangement & performance. Classy single cover too.
“I Feel the Sunrise,” has soul-stirring backing vocals mindful of Simon’s work. When the acoustic guitar introduces the faster pace & drops in Spanish trumpets it becomes a musical experience that’s exciting. This must be a great live song.
Don successfully ties unrelated music genres like folk-rock & the more serious side of psychedelic songs cleverly & successfully into concepts still innovative today. Some are silly fun tunes from the bag of a variety of good-time singer-songwriters who dabbled in songs from another era. The English pub musical style of “Open the Door,” was once explored by the likes of Sam Leno in 1975 — a connoisseur of these types of songs. His (“Ordinary Man” “Bring It Back”) mined the tuneful saloon songs of the 20s & 30s.
But Don doesn’t meander there too long. He slips on white sneakers & instinctively offers “First In Flight,” a return to the world-music stylings of Paul Simon’s Graceland with a pinch of Johnny Clegg’s Julukka (“Scatterlings of Africa”) & Jimmy Buffett. Fun, dance party music for sure.
More seriously, is “Dre,” slow & subtle with lovely musicianship & old-style female backing vocals of Ali Wadsworth & Alicia Walter who make it rich. The entire LP is written like a novel with chapters though it’s not a concept album.
“O Holy Night,” is another superb performance. The female backing vocals again add vibrancy & power. Don really scores high with this kind of piece. So many talented artists, competition is high. But every now & then there’s a singer that has versatile talent, intriguing music, a good voice & magic. Don is a magician. Players – Chuck Staab (drums), Ross Bellenoit (electric guitar/percussion), Sebastian Guerrero & Mike Irwin (trumpets).
B&W photo by Bryan Lathrop. CD is available @ https://www.donmccloskey.com/