American Showplace Music – 2015
11 tracks; 56 minutes
John Ginty has been a very busy man recently, this being his third album in little over two years. John is a keyboard player who does not sing, so there are a number of guest vocalists, notably Cris Jacobs who plays guitar on four cuts and sings three of those. Other vocalists include Alexis P Suter, Cara Kelly, Billy Harvey, Paul Gerdis and rapper Redman and guitarists Lou Pallo and Jimmy Bennett also feature. The core band is John on all keyboards, Mike Buckman on guitar, Paul Kuzik on bass and Dan Fadel and Andrei Koribanics who both play drums, one for each speaker! John wrote all the material, with some help from the band members on a few tunes and the album was recorded in John’s home state of New Jersey and produced by Ben Elliott.
“Fredo” opens and closes the album, the opener being an instrumental with Lou Pallo playing some delightful jazz-inflected guitar at the start before John’s swirling organ takes over. Cris Jacobs sings and plays lead guitar on the impressive “Ball Of Fire” which is not really blues but has some fine Santana-esque playing over a latin beat, probably the pick of the album for this reviewer. Alexis P Suter brings her deep, resonant vocals to bear on “Old Shoes” with Jimmy Bennett on guitar and this one is definitely a blues! The instrumental “Elevators” fizzes along with John’s organ and Cris’ guitar vying for supremacy on what sounds like a prog-rock band from the 70’s. Cara Kelly sings “Battlegrounds”, a good tune again more in a rock vein. “Rock N’ Roll Sunday” opens with some interesting piano/organ from John before Paul Gerdis sings an unusual song about a pastor who is perhaps not all he seems: “The shades he wore helped to ensure the congregation never knew one Friday night he rolled the dice”. With a blend of rock n’ roll and gospel that matches the title this is a catchy tune.
The title “Annandale” recalls Steely Dan’s tale of “My Old School” but in this song the central character has spent “ten years in the big house, cell block B with a mountain view” and musically we are close to slow blues with some atmospheric guitar from Cris who also takes the vocal here. John’s opening organ statement on “No Jelly” reminded this reviewer of bands like Colosseum and Jimmy Bennett’s guitar also takes from that era of classic rock. “Pirates” again features Cris on guitar and vocals with Billy Harvey providing the harmony vocal on a very strange song lyrically though musically this is closer to blues than much of the album. Cara sings rather histrionically on the title track which uses photographic terminology to describe a failing relationship in a slow tune with doom-laden organ and Jimmy Bennett’s pedal steel. The second version of “Fredo” again opens with Lou Pallo’s guitar but with Redman’s extended rap which was difficult to understand even with the words printed on the sleevenotes, but that may be a generation thing!
There is little straight blues here though there are some good songs to enjoy if your tastes extend to a wider range of styles.