Don't let the great Skrebneski / Avedon b&w photography of the liner fool you, this is neither New York metropolitan music nor a Death of a Salesman flashback to the end of an earlier era…though…it does capture a good deal of an early 20th century vibe excellently. Joe Iadanza has a tenor voice that's off the norm, just the sort of singer I avidly seek out. His music is stripped down but dead-nails perfect in its evocations, Carolyn Pook and violin aiding immensely. Anyone remember Leo Sayer's killer first LP, the one before he quickly sold out (and became a, retch! , dance floor idol)? This is something like that debut.
Once Upon a Time sits somewhere near the unique stretch Sayer covered, bringing together a number of evanescent social milieus but minus Sayer's vaulting leaps, occupying a more urbane zone. There's also some Harry Chapin and James Taylor in the guy, a story-teller and sophisticated folkie. For just a spare quartet, he wrenches a hell of a lot out of the music. Night Light Lullabye is quite Taylor-ish though I doubt Baby James would ever hit that ambiance. Your Song is one of the high points of the collection, with Joe Hertenstein's always letter-prefect drumming carrying the entire ensemble, including righteous backing vocals, along a soulfelt song of absence and longing. It's followed by the uptone and almost rockin' The Barn, Iadanza's electric guitar keeping a metronomic pace to an Elton John styled ditty until he breaks it loose in a Davey Johnstonish solo.
Iadnza plans to do some solo and ensemble touring in 2009. If he lands anywhere nearby, I strongly suggest attending. You're not likely to catch too many acts like this, a soft-rock oriented venture but with a far more evocative sophistication and plenty of room for an almost Gatsby-ish vibe.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles