Dion: New York Is My Home

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Dion
New York Is My Home
(Instant/The Orchard)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Over the decades it seems there have been more Dion comebacks than final Who tours. But, despite critical accolades and props from the high profile likes of Bruce Springsteen and Lou Reed (who famously inducted him into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 using the term “Bronx soul”), Dion DiMucci remains destined to be consigned to the “oldies” bin.

That’s unfortunate and unfair because Dion, now pushing 80, remains a riveting, vibrant performer and singer-songwriter; a seemingly ageless voice whose recent work is every bit as essential as anything he did with the Belmonts as part of the late ’50s/early ’60s golden age of vocal groups. He’s been on somewhat of a roll since 2000 leading up to this, his second album of nearly all original material in four years. These songs such as the bittersweet “Visionary Heart” and the swinging “All Rocked Up” sound fresh and alive, delivered with a swagger gained from walking his New York City home streets for all these years.

If all he recorded was the title cut with disciple and fellow New Yorker Paul Simon, featuring one of Dion’s most moving vocals, glowing but not saccharine lyrics about the city and a melody that flows like the Hudson River, that would have been proof enough that DiMucci at 77 remains in top creative form. Add a few tough rockers such as the Chuck Berry-ish “The Apollo King” and the roaring “Ride With You,” some of the gutsy blues that have always run through his music in the form of “Can’t Go Back to Memphis” along with the sweet Latin tinged opening “Aces Up Your Sleeve” for a gutsy, effervescent set that should garner Dion more attention than he has received in many years.

There’s spark and sparkle to Dion’s singing that artists a quarter of his age can’t muster, making New York Is My Home not just a terrific return, but an album worthy of your attention even if your parents weren’t born when he first hit the charts.

Pure talent is timeless and Dion proves it on a 40 minute set that leaves you wanting more and convinced he still has plenty of gas left in his seemingly bottomless tank.