An artist puts many complex ingredients into designing their finished product. Sound mixes with visual and written accoutrements like the design of strong rope, with each strand wrapping tightly onto the next. As the saying goes, you are only as strong as your weakest link. It takes a confident vision and strong self-confidence to find new ways to impress the finicky music populace. Red Bank resident Gerald Edward not only makes it easy for his fans to believe in what he does, but also he has come up with a way of looking at what he does from multiple angles.
His latest CD, titled Side A/Side B, consists of two styles of the artist and its purpose is to demonstrate the versatility of a writer who knows that a good song is paramount over all else. Parlor tricks and smoke machines cannot cover up the truth and Edward throws his sparse and special brand out into the public arena for you, the listener, to make the decision on its worth.
Produced by Pat Noon (River City Extension, The Stone Lonesome) Side A/Side B is a culmination of fine songwriting and support from a bevy of unique musicians such as Katie Locke (harmony vocals, keys), Jordan Scannella (upright bass), and Josh Giunta (drums). Gerald’s separation salvation on Side A/Side B gives special clarity and style to a disc that would still turn heads no matter what the presentation.
With a vocal style reminiscent of Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon, Edward spins golden webs of complex and thought-provoking stories. His understanding of melody shines on this two-headed platter and the result is a fresh and wonderful standout in the Garden State.
The first side consists of Edward and his full band spilling free-formed folk and pop down over the first few cuts. “My Old Friends” is a moody and introspective piano-fueled composition that features the precise harmonies of Katie Locke. Her piano work matches her vocal abilities well as she sprinkles shimmering layers of piano brilliance down on top of Edward’s melodic forethought.
“Sweet Revenge” is an upbeat skiffle tune and features Edward playing some intricate banjo lines. The train-like rhythm of Josh Giunta and Jordan Scanella fuel this fast-paced number well. Nothing is overstated here, as Gerald lays smooth, Paul Simon styled vocals down over the song. Acoustic and electric guitars sparkle and fire intermediately throughout this little firecracker of a song.
“Ghost” literally overflows with unique melody and design. Combining the urgency of Sufjan Stevens and the insight of a young James Taylor, Gerald moves this breezy tune right across your mind like a lazy summer day on the West Coast. I like the progressive mix of rhythm and time signature switches, which flow perfectly. This is a shimmering trip through stylistic freedom. “Ghost” bounces lightly from simple movement to intricate movement. It is my favorite song on the disc.
From band to solo acoustic, Gerard moves with purpose as he tackles side B and the song “Promise.” Finger plucked counter melodies ring against the mellow delivery of Edward’s vocal. The harmonies of Katie Locke give this stark song a sweet level of dynamic change.
Other interesting songs on side B include the acoustic magic of “Dear Terena.” Gerald mixes fingerpicking, string snaps and full-bodied harmonics along with the vocal assist of Locke. His mastery of keeping things vital through minimal instrumentation works in his favor and this song possesses the body and soul of a strong and insightful songwriter.
Gerald throws more talent into the mix on “Fast As I Can.” His mandolin playing is akin to anything you might hear on a Levon Helm disc and he chugs along at a smart and satisfying pace. Chord arrangements and runs sparkle down like Kentucky raindrops and the acoustic lead guitar is just enough to leave you wanting more.
He closes his two-sided oddesy with “Put The Brakes On.” Ethereal and complex, Edward pushes the melody of this song into the mind of the listener, keeping it there and bringing you back to listen more than once. With his combination of producer, the musicians and the delivery, Gerald Edward demonstrates his understanding of pure and simple songwriting. The songs he performs with a full group stand shoulder to shoulder with the solo material as well.
Edward is a Shoreworld original that speaks loudly through action, utilizing soul and passion in his craft. Powerful yet fragile, this disc should see Gerald move up the ladder and get the recognition he has been working to achieve. Side A/Side B is a successful venture in to showing exactly what you are capable of once you understand what it is you want to say. For more on Gerald Edward head over to geraldedwardmusic.com.
Tony Tedesco With Gorgo Beach And The Full Fathom Five – LIVE At The Saint April 4
Tony Tedesco has always taken the road less traveled. He is the underdog of the music scene and the scorned derelict by the sea. Feared by Converse wearing hipsters from here to Brooklyn, he is respected by his underground peers across the state. His latest show at The Saint was much more than just a good performance; it was a vindication of persistence.
Tedesco, aided by Gorgo Beach and crew, churned through a dozen tunes to a packed Saint house. Songs like the ever popular “Salt” churned into areas of personal confession, conflict and emotion, sung by Tedesco and his fair voiced assistant. Sometimes a night goes perfectly, and for this group, that is what happened on this packed Wednesday night. Tedesco was amicable and funny, calling out folks for their blaring conversations and hushing the room with his laid-back Tennessee tunes.
The Full Fathom Five is an oddity to behold. Featuring a minimalist drummer, a Hollywood-bound singer and a rocking, stand-up bassist, Tedesco’s raw and gritty vocal style reigned down over them all, recalling David Allen Coe and Tom Waits to the 10th power. Mandolin player extraordinaire Gorgo Beach lent a steady hand to Tedesco’s boisterous, dog on a short leash style. Chipping out hillbilly chords and rural, spun runs, Beach is turning up on more than one stage these days and it is a well-deserved reward for his years in the music biz.
Any other combination just would not have worked for this bunch, and they took advantage of the magic by locking into a tight, bouncy vein of Smoky Mountain music from the word go. While the band was opening for Nashville, Tennessee’s Rebekah Jean (featuring Grammy-nominated producer David Mayfield) they definitely brought their own large crowd to the party.
Tedesco and company demonstrated a mountain of hard worked material and I cannot wait to hear their latest release once it is ready to press. One thing is for sure with the way this band impressed the house—you will read about it right here once I have it in my hands. This real deal group knows how to play honest music for people who are not stupid.
For more information on Tony Tedesco, Gorgo Beach and the Full Fathom Five, head over to Tedesco’s wonderful Facebook page and start demanding the forthcoming disc. facebook.com/tony.tedesco.