Chris Berardo & The Desberardos – American Dust
Taking a cue from stylizations by John Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen & a nip from Bon Jovi, Chris Berardo (vocals/percussion/harmonica) gives a credible accounting with his 1997 recorded songs but breaks no new ground. That’s probably why his success had limitations. Initially recorded in NY & Connecticut the sound is exactly that of an East Coast rootsy rock made of American dust.
This release is the first time offered digitally & to celebrate its 25th Anniversary. The NY-born & Connecticut-based artist did piece together a pleasant set. However, where Springsteen represented originally the factory worker, the shore people of NJ, & Mellencamp was the rural equivalent – Chris doesn’t distinguish himself with anything from his neighborhood or walk of life. He brings a satisfying musical picnic but not dinner.
The title track is a good song. And there is gold in them hills — “Old Man’s Eyes,” & “She’s Leaving Me,” while reminiscent of other efforts like Rick Springfield’s 1985 homage to his late father in “My Father’s Chair.” Chris scores well with these kinds of songs. Very well.
The 10-song, 47-minute set of American Dust (Drops Sept 27–Green Haven Records) was produced in part by Chris, Dick Neal (acoustic/electric guitars/dobro), Pete Szymanski (electric & upright basses), C.J. Masters (pedal steel/electric guitar) & Michael Branden.
All credibly showcased though the music is inherently the 90s. It’s a good effort with some local color. The musicianship while sharp & Chris’ vocalizing though too associated with the styles of others who were a little more distinguished isn’t poor. His fault was not developing an aspect to set him apart from comparisons. But it’s obvious he likes what he does.
There are well-written pieces like “One Step Closer To Goodbye.” But the Tommy Conwell, Tom Cochran (“Boy Inside the Man”) musical drift is dominant.
What Chris has going is the beautifully played dobro & pedal steel guitars — well-recorded & a good signature sound for him. The Mellencamp-like “Is There Anybody Out There” is excellent.
What’s missing is the “dirtied-upped street cred” that Springsteen & Billy Falcon embody. The songs sound more loaded with innocence than experience. But it is potent. The addition of a fiddle is a good choice, but the East Coast vocal tone — hard to escape.
The back cover illustration would’ve been a wiser front cover. Why? Chris looks dated with the denim (it’s 2022). He just isn’t from Texas or Oklahoma & looks more Michael Bolton-oriented. Image…just as important as the music.
Highlights – “Old Man’s Eyes,” “Top of the Stairs,” “Is There Anybody Out There?” Players – Marc Berardo (vocals/acoustic guitars), Scott Berardo, Vic Diaz & Jim Copolla (drums), Tom Marotta (bass/vocals) with Tom Camp & Jack Tyrrell (pianos), Jim Allyn (mandolin/fiddle) & Billy Lopez (keys).
Cover image: James Balga. CD @ Bandcamp + http://www.chrisberardo.com/