(Deep River Records)
It’s been nearly eighteen months since we interviewed Angelo Palladino and since then he’s been playing mostly solo gigs in and around his home town of Leeds in the UK. For those of you lucky enough to have seen Angelo performing live, you’ll know he brings an amazing intensity into both his guitar playing and his unique anguished vocal style. Quite in contrast to his very laid back off stage persona with one of the widest, and most engaging smiles you’re ever likely to come across.
In between live performing Angelo has put together a four track EP showcasing some of his current live material with the ‘in your face’ title ‘Knucklebones’. Turn up the volume and you can get some idea why he’s such a sought after live act.
The EP is indeed ‘down to the Knucklebones’ with Angelo on electric guitar and vocals, with a minimum of overdubbed guitar and occasional harmonica.
Angelo’s guitar style is very rhythmic, making great use of his Fender Telecaster and the less well known Danelectro electric guitar which he uses to great effect live when playing slide guitar.
This new album reflects one side of Angelo’s songwriting style, dark foreboding, intense, blues influenced, with some great ‘root’ finger picking music. Very raw but very musical. Angelo is not easy to place, certainly not into whatever passes for mainstream music these days. Maybe a few echoes of the late Davy Graham, especially in the fluid finger picking style and at the other extreme some reflections of Jimmy Page’s best work, especially with Robert Plant in ‘Walking into Clarksdale’
The title track ‘Knucklebones’ starts with a catchy staccato riff before launching into some lyrics which might be describing the current laments of the economic gloom.
‘I’m dragging my feet down a dirty street
Hard luck stories are all I meet (daily)
Can’t pay this, can’t pay that
I’ve lost the car, I’ve lost the flat (help me)’
Something this dark shouldn’t be uplifting …. but it is! and before long your foot starts tapping and not long after that, you’re singing along with ‘down to the knucklebones’. Great fun!
The second track ‘Nighthawk’ is an altogether different proposition. Straight in with the trademark rhythmic guitar and a beautifully haunting harmonica. This track demonstrates Angelo’s ability to create a simple yet effective canvas on which to paint his stories of life and love and most potently loss. For it’s only when you understand loss, that you can sing with such intensity about it. And although Angelo seems to be one of the most happy-go-lucky guys your could ever meet, he certainly writes about loss in a way that touches your soul. So now I’m heading towards the end of this track and it begins to stir some memories I thought I had tucked away for good. This is music which you can’t hide from. A great track.
Then into ‘East End Blues’ and Angelo’s guitar is really getting into the groove. At times it sounds like a steam train gathering pace and you kind of expect the whistle to sound as it rushes into the tunnel; and right on cue in comes the harmonica … Get on board! The vocal delivery is still heartfelt and the lyrics not designed to cheer,
‘some things never leave you, some things never will
for good or ill, they hold me still’
This is raw, this is great.
And finally ‘I am a stranger’, more mainstream, more blues based, and again a great rhythmic guitar backing for Angelo’s vocals to work their magic, on what becomes a classic foot stomping tale of life’s darker side.
‘Nights are cold
Hearts are colder still
Faces ain’t friendly
Sure glad looks don’t kill’
Some great guitar work, punchy, jangly, just on the blues side of rock and roll.
Okay, you need to come to terms that this is one guy with a guitar, harmonica and a great blues voice. No backing band, no multi-layered effects; and do you know what? It’s all the better for it when you get to the heart of what makes great roots based music.
So if you want a taste of a what a great live solo performer Angelo Palladino is, then go and see him! Second best, buy the EP and get ready to live a little more!