New Jersey Material
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
The good ole USA has its fair share of vibrant music scenes. New Jersey has given the world a diverse mix of artists, from Sinatra’s timeless Great American Songbook to Bon Jovi’s hard rock Americana and many more in between. Of course, with each of these success stories, there are hundreds of talented unknown songwriters and local legends who toil away at their craft in front of bar patrons more interested in gossip or the game on the flat screen TV.
Pat Guadagno pays respect to the current songwriters of his home state on New Jersey Material, a collection of 14 top-notch songs penned mostly by unheralded artists, such as Steven Delopolous and Daniel Petraitis. Guadagno tips his hat to the musical Boss of New Jersey, Bruce Springsteen, with a stellar cover of “Born To Run,” turning it into a delicately picked plea to a lover to join him on the road to a better life.
Guadagno has great command of his instruments: his guitar skills incorporate lovely picking peppered with tasty fills, while his voice echoes many a folk troubadour before him. He delivers the hilarious “People My Age” (“People my age have started looking gross/maybe not all but I should say most”) with such deadpan songwriter John Gorka would surely smile. Shel Silverstein and Fred Koller’s “This Guitar Is For Sale” is one of the few tracks not written by a Jersey songwriter, but still thematically ties in with the underdog spirit of the CD. What performer can’t relate to the weary narrator contemplating packing it in for good: “This guitar is for sale/ I’ll let her go cheap… the songs that she plays/they ain’t selling these days.” Bluesman Keb Mo’ accents the lyrics with beautiful Resonator slide guitar accompaniment.
Whether he’s a heartbroken man on a drunken bar crawl (“Nobody But Myself To Blame” and “I Can’t Take Me Anywhere”), a gypsy at the end of his rope (“Gravedigger”) or a man in love (“Here’s To You”), Guadagno wrenches the deepest emotions and holds the listener’s attention throughout the disc. New Jersey may get an undeserved bad rap as a vast wasteland these days, but Guadagno digs deep into the Garden State’s fertile musical ground and finds rich, solid material.