Antonio Andrade – My Reward
With a folk voice as gruff as Jon Dee Graham & Dave Van Ronk, Antonio Andrade has a sincere delivery that’s a bit retro & still sings of Vietnam & other past indulgences with a 60s folky element. If he wasn’t effective & striking in this entertaining manner, he’d be a novelty. But he isn’t. He channels the seriousness of the original folk artists through his own music with assertiveness & striking words.
Not all tunes will slide into younger ears with any sense of importance, but older listeners will have that captivated grin remembering some of the issues that Andrade chooses to reminisce about. He makes many of his originals attractive with piercing melodies – “Get a Little Cup,” is affirming & playful with acoustic guitar. Humor serves as a fine lesson for the headier subjects & it’s all from the school of “If I Had a Hammer,” “Tom Dooley,” “Reverend Mr. Black,” “Puff, the Magic Dragon” & of course, Joni Mitchell’s “The Circle Game.”
The songs were recorded in Harrisburg, PA. — the 10-track My Reward (Drops Oct 27–Life Shakes Records) is Antonio’s 8th & was produced by Antonio (vocals/acoustic guitar/harmonica) with Derek Euston (bass/electric & acoustic guitars/organ/mandolin).
The music is laid out based on personal experience, age & relationships. Mr. Andrade’s song topics are planted in the soil of sad trends (loss of family members & friends, a touch of melancholy & sadness but with humor). His performances are spirited & obviously, deal more with reality than most in popular folk music.
It’s not a radical set & not as aggressive & cutting as say, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Joan Baez, or early Bob Dylan. Antonio instead mines a deeper motherlode of the Kingston Trio, Fred Neil, Eric Andersen & Van Ronk. Antonio does keep the repertoire evenly balanced with absorbing vocals. (“I’m Not Giving Up,” is beautiful). Probably the most powerful tune of the ten.
I’m impressed with Antonio’s effort & ability to separate the indulgent folk song from the well-meaningful balladry where there are gentle lessons weaved through the lines. Not all folk songs have to focus on poverty, war, the plight of immigrants, being poor, alcoholism, hard times, or unemployment. Those topics are important & have been covered but this set explores other odes. Knowing when there’s time for something new, understanding missed opportunities, not giving up & just singing because, well — it’s fun. The diversification offers a rewarding listen.
Highlights – “Get a Little Cup,” Boo Hoo Hoo,” “I’m Not Giving Up,” “You Don’t Until You Do,” “Memory” & “Sing.”
Musicians – Denny Neidich (drums/congas/percussion), Richard “rags” Ranaglia (all saxes/clarinet/flute), Amma Johnson (vocals), Freebo (5-string fretless bass) & Tim Latshaw (bass guitar).
Cover image & color portrait courtesy of Antonio’s Facebook. The 41-minute CD @ https://www.lifeshakes.com/
Enjoy our previous coverage here: Song Premiere: Antonio Andrade “Get a Little Cup”