By the middle of the third song, I have already imagined Lisa Moscatiello rocking on stage Melissa Etheridge style, serenading me at midnight in the piano bar of a smoky hotel, and then kicking it up with a rowdy row of cancan dancers across a brightly-lit stage. On her third solo project, Lisa pushes the contemporary folk envelope into a surprising jazzy pop broadway direction.
I am immediately struck by the amazing production and musicianship throughout this CD. Each of these eleven songs has received the exact attention that it deserves. Lisa's voice is at once powerful and ethereal, dripping out of these songs like sweet nectar. The vocals are consistently clear and remarkably bright throughout, which is the only way to treat a voice like hers.
The instrumentation, especially the electric guitar and organ, drifts and swells around the central voice, painting an ever-changing backdrop and filling the spaces with warmth and energy. The parts are pulled together into a beautiful whole while retaining their individual character and identity.
Eleven different songwriters in various collaborations are involved in writing these songs. Lisa co-wrote two of the songs and wisely selected nine other songs that fit the cabaret-folk style of this project. These numbers are strong on melody while leaning towards somewhat rudimentary love-lost and love-found themes. I would like to have heard some more descriptive and creative wording to inject the lyrics with the same wow factor that the musicianship and vocals carry.
The bright and spacey guitar intro to Ashtray gets this project off in the right direction. Lisa's sultry voice comes in, taming the guitar that crawls along beneath her, rising and falling at her command. Almost a pop-rock song, there is just enough cabaret to keep it sounding original. New Years has a similar head-bopping feel as she sings of hoping to turn a new love leaf, and What Happens After Love? builds on the theme of love and loss in the same upbeat style.
Trouble From the Start and Exile, two of my favorite tracks, both move along gently as sweet, engaging mid-tempo ballads. These two, especially, are the songs that will make people say, "Who is that?"
Several of these tracks accentuate the cabaret side of pop. Feel the Love is propelled along by peppy percussion and a pop psychology lesson in moving beyond the daily grind. You're Crying, a Leonard Feather/Quincy Jones tune, comes across like the gently swinging classic that it is. It makes me envision Lisa slithering across the top of a grand piano wearing a boa and a, well, maybe just a boa.
Come Sinfonia has all the fabulous production and performance elements present throughout these songs, although the Italian lyrics quickly make me lose interest (perhaps more my problem than a problem with the song).
The last three tracks, Something New, Brand New Me, and Now You're Back in Love Again, capitalize on the sensitivity and depth of Lisa's voice in this interesting cabaret-filled jazz-pop genre.
The style of this collection is a welcome departure from much of what we hear these days. Lisa Moscatiello has practically pioneered a new sub-genre at the busy intersection of folk, pop, and cabaret streets.
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