Artist: Paul Cataldo
Sounds Like: Neil Young, Gram Parsons
Production/Musicianship Grade: 8/10
Overall Talent Level: 9/10
Songwriting Skills: 9/10
Performance Skill: 9/10
Best Songs: Home, Damn You River, Drinkin and Sleepin
This is good ol’ backwoods hippie-esque country-folk-rock from … New York City? Paul Cataldo has put together a five-song EP that is as far from city life as I can imagine, and I hope the people listening to him in NYC clubs appreciate him like I do.
The loping first track, “Home” has that boots-keeping-time-on-the-porch-boards feel of Neil Young’s “Heart Of Gold.” Paul has an ache to his voice, yearning but not melodramatic. Alicia Van den Berg harmonizes prettily on the high lonesome chorus.
The rueful “Damn You River” has a Gram Parsons-like swing to it, and Paul conjures a vivid scene: “The water was calm but nor for long/canoe flipped on a log and she was gone.”
Cataldo’s guitar picking is clean and clear throughout the disc, and Bob New does what all good pedal steel playing does to me: makes me feel a good kind of heartache. At times New could be higher in the mix.
“To Live and Be Free” is a showcase for Paul’s vocal skill, and he tosses in a too-short electric guitar solo. “To Live” and the bluegrassy “ Right Before (My Very Eyes)” explore the theme of pursuing a dream versus settling down.
Cataldo does a George Jones-like (but rootsier) turn on “Drinkin’ and Sleepin’.” Robbie Collins adds rhythmic banjo; I don’t know who plays the blues harp, but it’s a nifty addition.
On Home, Paul Cataldo tells straightforward tales with a rustic, no-frills sound. I can’t wait to hear what he does with a whole album’s worth of material this good.