The well-known musician and Jersey native Pat Guadagno pays homage to his most beloved Garden State songwriters and their well-versed tracks with the compilation that is New Jersey Material, where he incorporates guests and all of their instruments, including the violin, cello, mandolin, and accordion. Unfurling with the emotional, bluesy country rocker “Pray That We Will,” written originally by Daniel Petraitis, you can almost feel the worry that is laced with the vocalist’s words. The track following is the down-home style cut “Never Even Tried,” a song that recounts the story of a cheating lover, penned by Kevin “Bird” Connair.
Five tracks into the album is an acoustic piece by writers Tom Kimmel and Michael Lille called “Ships,” a number that is written to be a bittersweet goodbye. Pat Guadagno has chosen the songs well when it comes to the raw qualities and simplicity of each. This straightforward style of songwriting personifies the Americana genre. It’s these common threads within the 14 tracks that simultaneously make the album a cohesive work. Written by Michael Peter Smith, the tempo leans back in the country/bluegrass direction with “Can’t Take Me Anywhere,” a break-up song told from a point of view spawned out of loneliness.
Springsteen’s “Born To Run” is the only live recording on the disc where Guadagno pours as much feel as he can into a number. This track is as “New Jersey” as things can get. Sticking to a simple country-influenced motif with “Carousel” and “Here’s To You,” these love songs remain as sappy as their titles sound. Guadagno’s cover of Connair’s “Sanctuary” is the subtle finish to New Jersey Material. The musician is consistent in delivering his signature gritty, bluegrass vocals, organic guitars, and historic tracks make this piece a Jerseyian classic.
In A Word: Familiar