I don't watch TV and haven't for the past 20-plus years. Unless a brain aneurism strikes, lobotomizing me, it's a practice I'll continue until the whitecoated lads from Shady Acres Rest Home For The Terminally Curmudgeonly come for me. This means I miss crap like American Idol, so I fall to my knees praising the God I don't believe in for heaven-sent favors. It, however, also means that I miss a few cool items like X-Files, Millenium, Malcolm in the Middle, South Park, and totally unexpected outfall like this singular CD stemming from an abysmally crappy popular show.
Reed Waddle was chosen to be pursued among 20 top finalists from 25,000 contestants in American Idol's Songwriter Competition, which means the idiotic creators of that travesty, in choosing Waddle, have a few more brain cells than anyone would've guessed. Teamed with John Oates (Hall & Oates), he's produced a disc that one-ups the highly successful Big John's radio monster group by a goodly mile, kinda reflects Richie Kotzen's oddly down-home solo gig, and will work its way past your defenses no matter how hard you try to ward it off. Way back when, I was hoping for this kind of thing when listening to Stoneground and other groups that couldn't quite settle into any orthodox mode. Piece by Piece is neither splashy nor distinctive but rather a very pleasing blend of any number of mellow rock styles with a big spoonful of blue-eyed soul, clever in a way that never brags, friendly as a quirky minstrel playing on the corner for children and their bemused parents.
The initial song at first left me a bit nonplussed, but, by the fifth cut, I was sold, enjoying every moment. Then I went back to the intro and found it wasn't that I'd been displaying bad taste (goodness no!) but that this is just not like much of anything I've ever heard, something of a distant cousin to Julian Sakata's still-baffling set of opuses (reviewed elsewhere in this forum) and haunting my braincells. Waddle has absorbed his influences so well that it's damnably difficult to name them, but I do hear Sly Stone's mellow bop side (I had to go back and listen to Family Affair after this disc), both early and later Steve Miller, grassrootsily funky Steely Dan, and a myriad of groups from the high days of the late 70s and early 80s. If there's one word that describes this effort, it's refreshing. Guaranteed, Piece by Piece is going to find its way into my tube-driven Denon quite a few more times in the future.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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