Review: John DeNicola is Singing in the Spotlight

John DeNicola/She Said/Omad
Three out of Five Stars

John DeNicola comes about his penchant for pop quite naturally. After all, he’s the man who co-wrote such staples as “Hungry Eyes” and “(I Had) The Time of My Life,” mega-hits that earned him a winning reputation and ensured added interest for his entire career. They also garnered him an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a Grammy nomination, and a Songwriter of the Year award from ASCAP. Not content to rest on those oversized laurels, he went on to help launch Maroon 5, write radio-ready hits for other artists and establish his own label, Omad Records.

So what does DeNicola have left to prove? Possibly the fact that he still has the ability not only tout songs for others but also to etch an impression of his own by singing his own songs. He does a good job of that on She Said, only the second solo album of his 50-year career and an effort that ought to make listeners wonder why it took so long for him to launch himself as an artist, to begin with. Indeed, DeNicola does an admirable job of showing off his singing skill, even to the point of sharing some well-chosen covers—the old folk chestnut “Morning Dew” and a surprisingly faithful read of Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home,” each rendered an assured sensitivity that reflects DeNicola’s individual approach.

Naturally, the new album leans heavily on the radio-ready sound that DeNicola is clearly famous for. The first few songs—“She Said,” “Love Devine” and “High”—are all embellished with the kind of lush arrangements and billowy vocals that typify that approach. There are a few surprises as well, however. “Breathe Deep” boasts a psychedelic sheen, while the steady strum of “Float of Hope” elevates the energy to a greater degree. The closing track “Sky” relies strictly on acoustic additives that end the album on a decidedly tranquil note. 

All in all, DeNicola hasn’t broken any new ground here, but he has proven that a belated claim to the solo spotlight can be well worth the wait. In that regard, She Said is well worth the listen.

Photo courtesy Devious Planet

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