Songwriter Michael Veitch is from Woodstock, NY, a town famous for its far-reaching and muddy musical roots. I don't know if Michael writhed in the mud with the masses at "Woodstock" or if he came by his musical point of view by other means, but no matter, he's here now and in his latest release, Painted Heart, he plays with the very best that Woodstock has to offer, now or ever. Pristinely recorded in Woodstock by songwriter and producer, Julie Last, Veitch achingly details the rigors of a painful break-up in Last Chances, explaining that it "Takes a heart of good stone / To not feel what I feel / Tears drawn from these bones / Thorns here where I kneel." Ouch. Clearly, Michael has been put through love's wringer this time, and presumably so have guitarist Artie Traum and keyboardist Pete Levin since their playing augments Veitch's pain perfectly. Like I said… ouch.
Michael has an appealing, reedy voice, and nowhere is it more effective than on My Old Car, a jaunty musical road-trip where he fondly remembers good times in his first car: "There are voices I can still hear / Faces in the rear view mirror / The back seat moaning with love and fear", and "Waving goodbye to the old high school / Two-tone still the height of cool / Baby moons shined like urban jewels / Arm around the blond in the saddle shoes". Ah, if only time stood still and rust slept, but finally even his old bucket of bolts succumbs, as it must, with "Chrome all peeled / Your window's been shot out / Nothing left to steal". On this track, he is backed by the harmonies of 'the Veitch Boys', a.k.a. Jerry Marotta and Bruce Milner, who strike just the right notes of youthful exuberance and melancholy needed to take us all with them on this ride.
The hit song on the album has to be Goodbye (Never Sounded So Sweet), since I was singing along and well into the groove by the second chorus. Michael Veitch understands how to write a song with a hook; that it requires a resonance in the listener's mind, ear and heart. This song is fully loaded with all the elements required to achieve that… verse, chorus, bridge… and each time he sings "Goodbye never sounded so sweet / To my ears", along with full-throated background singers Julie Last, Bar Scott and Kirsti Gholson, you'll be 'hooked', too.
Michael Veitch pays tribute to departed Woodstock legend and bluegrass hero John Herald in the song Omaha. Michael is strong here, learning how to cope with losses and lessons learned in a life fully lived, riding the rails and "Staring down the center of the great northern track / Who's looking back / Not me, not me". Drummer Jerry Marotta and bassist Billy Clockel hook-up seamlessly on this fast-moving tune, while Josh Roy Brown sizzles on the lap steel, allowing the listener to almost feel the clickety-clack of the train as it streaks across the plains. Ed Sanders, of The Fugs, makes an appearance here and it's only fitting, since he and John Herald were old friends and socialist lefties "in the day." John would have loved the spirit behind this homage and I hope he is somewhere riding on that glory train now. Another stand-out performance on Painted Heart is turned in by bassist and Woodstocker Kyle Esposito, whose instrument veritably moans on Knock Me Down, a tender telling of emotional resilience where Veitch declares "To my knees I have fallen / To your arms I once came crawling / That was then and this is now, darling". Turns out, Michael Veitch is going to be okay, and we're in his corner, with him in Woodstock.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2007, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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