There's more than a little Tim Hardin and Kevin Coyne in Mark Minelli, and I suspect that's what made the CandyRat label, a showcase ordinarily for exceptional guitar instrumentalists, perk up its ears. The imprint has been moving in the direction of vocal musics lately and demonstrating the same unerring sense exhibited in its main catalogue.
Certainly Robin Williams, catching a Chicago show, was swept up by Minelli's be-boppishly unusual manic energies and unorthodox approach, exclaiming "You're fucking awesome, brother!" before turning to the rest of the audience and enquiring "Wasn't he fucking awesome?" Well, hoo…ha!, what better endorsement could one ask? But it also informs that Mark's just a tad eccentric, no? I mean, no one would accuse Robin of mundane sensibilities. Oh, and Minelli landed the gig one week after arriving in town. Hm, could it be that one need hear this gent but once in order to become enthralled? It's true.
His brother Sam is a back-up player, along with several others, but the disc is dominated by Mark, who rarely does what you'd expect, lyrically or otherwise. It's not that he's completely off the wall but…different, a folker who sees no reason to follow tradition any further than it suits one's ends on, well, a canvas, yes, but one in need of the individual touch. He plays a guitar quite subordinated to that intense and dominating voice, but the instrument is, like everyone and everything connected to Gift Horse, beguiled by the rapidly shifting vocals and their narrative content, sidewise takes on the ordinary re-imbuing everyday life back into its own mysteries and confoundments.
In that, then, there's also a trace of Van Morrison, and I, quite frankly, see this guy doing something stunning with a much wider sound athwart a fuller ensemble sometime in the future. Mark Minelli is drenched with innovation, and one must suspect there's an ambition to match it. At least, we can fervently hope that's so.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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