Tony Cuchetti – Freer Street
Judging from the CD art you’d expect the music contained to be a little corny, vintage, jukebox mush, or middle-of-the-road Lenny Welch, Jimmy Roselli, or Ronnie Dove. But no. This 8-cut CD produced by Erik Koskinen was recorded in Wisconsin & it has outlaw country legs. It throws a curveball & sounds more like a laid-back Buddy Miller. This CD knows how to steal bases on Freer Street (Drops Aug 3–Farm To Label Records) a street in Detroit where Tony’s grandfather lived.
The Minnesota-based artist veers between rock, blues, Gospel & soulful ingredients. His secret ingredient in his vocals – nice & deep, warm with melodic magic throughout “The After.” The lyrics are intelligent & sprayed out with sincerity & soulfulness. Cuchetti has power in his tone & gives it a full-tilt stab in these generously written tales.
Part of his attraction is also his diversification, his being creatively different from the run-of-the-mill wannabes. Many of the wannabes sadly sing well & may even play well, but they don’t know how to write a decent song or arrange it to be alluring or attractive to the ears. Tony Cuchetti is a master. By the opening strains of track 2, he still engages with a John Hiatt tonality blended with a sprinkle of John Prine authenticity. I like this guy.
What’s also commendable is that Tony doesn’t rely on his own pen & will reach into a bag of covers that suit his voice. Though his voice has a country tint he doesn’t come across immediately as a country singer like the more commercial mainstream rusty truck cowboy hat (Tony often wears a fedora) wearing tobacco chewing whiskey drinking good ole boys. Who I happen to like & emulate despite my wrong geography.
Taking a different path Tony goes deep into a soulful Eddie Hinton groove on “Lay It On Me,” & his voice works though a Muscle Shoals band may have been more effective. The CD art doesn’t reflect a country set at all but a more urban-oriented showcase. “Stubborn Bones,” is a serious original tune with weighty lyrics but bright instrumentation.
With the plodding yet exceptional “Heartbreak Town,” Tony coasts into Steve Earle’s territory with a nice Waylon Jennings tone. Entertaining stuff.
Highlights – “The After,” “Convince My Heart,” “Lay It On Me,” “Stubborn Bones,” “Heartbreak Town” & “Time Moves On.”
Musicians – Tony (lead & backing vocals, acoustic & electric guitars), Blair Krivanek (rhythm & lead electric guitars/mandolin), Eric Koskinen (rhythm, acoustic, lap steel & lead electric guitars/tambourine), Nick Salisbury (bass), JT Bates (drums/percussion), Gregg Inhofer (Hammond B3 organ), John Richardson (tambourine/fireplace shovel), Aby Wolf & Josh Gravelin (bgv).
CD cover photo by Richard Cuchetti. Portrait photograph by Stacie Huckeba. The 37-minute CD @ Bandcamp + https://tonycuchetti.com/about/ + https://farmtolabelrecords.com/product/freer-street-by-tony-cuchetti-vinyl-album/