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CD REVIEW: Tony Pica - 'Soul Occupation'
By Steve Allat - 01/22/2004 - 04:43 PM EST

Artist: Tony Pica
Album: 'Soul Occupation'
CD Review: Label: Independent
Tracks: 16
Released: 2003
For Fans Of:: Steely Dan, 3 Dog Night, David Wilcox, Doobie Bros, Counting Crows
Fav Track: Soul Occuption, Wise Man, Midnight Listen to the Saxophone, Wrong Side Of Town, Untitled (16).

The tone for Tony's debut CD is set nicely on the first song, the very catchy title number, 'Soul Occupation'. The foundation of the music is fairly easy to hear, and influences abound from the 70's and before. It's apparent that Tony loves good old r&b influenced rock and roll.

A multi-instrumentalist, Tony layers acoustic and electric guitar, keyboard and piano very well, topping it with his honest, gritty vocals. His voice is very easy listen to, sailing along with the music, although a few times I would have liked to hear it a little more clearly in the mix. I have to say, though, Tony - did you secretly clone Donald Fagen's voice?

As a complete work, these 16 songs come together seamlessly, the sign of an artist who has come to know himself, his style and his songwriting ability. Each song has something memorable, whether a vocal or musical hook, which keeps you listening track by track and on repeated listens. Only on a few tracks does the playing seem typical of the genre with nothing extra driving it. And on the flip side, tracks like 'Wiseman' (a veritable Steely Dan song, if I didn't know better) show Tony paying homage to his roots and transcending them, which is what great new music is all about.

The main thing holding me back from putting Tony's CD over the top is the recording quality, which sounds good, but not quite great. It's a little 'fuzzy' sounding, giving it a dated feel that it doesn't deserve. A sharper, slightly edgier recording, with more separation and definition would put some of his performances over that 'commercial' barrier looming in the near distance.

I enjoyed listening to this CD very much, even if it did bring me right back to my teenage years, with the above mentioned bands in heavy rotation on the record player. It looks like Tony's years of playing experience are paying off, and I'm sure these songs make for a very good, groovin' live show.

Contact: Tony Pica

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