As American as Chevrolet, baseball and apple pie, Danny White is back with another foray into the mellow, coastal-spun credibility of a Jersey-born rock and roll son. His latest is titled If We Never Meet Again, and was produced by the team of CJ Eriksson (U2, Matchbox Twenty and Phish) and Shelly Yakus, an influential producer who has worked with everyone from John Lennon to Tom Petty.
White embraces the historical sound of his idols on If We Never Meet Again. Utilizing a simple, straightforward compositional approach, White and company blow thick tendrils of melodic, acoustic-dominated smoke, summoning the spirits of Don McLean, Don Henley and Jackson Browne all along their laid-back way. White has no aspirations of grandeur or shock value on this latest disc, and he spends more time concentrating on compositional rebirth than he does worrying about what other people will think of his lack of fedora and sweater vest.
If We Never Meet Again has several great songs and the first on the disc that really jumps out at me is “Waitin’ All Nite.” At the number three spot on the disc, this is the song that should have come first. Utilizing back porch Tennessee bounce, White and crew throw down hard, pushing big choruses in heavy repetition and mixing in some great resonator skronk along the way. With a cooperative studio band that boasts everyone from local axe slingers such as Michael Askin and Keith McCarthy, as well as musicians like Kerry Divine and Debbie Vaughn, White has his choice to call up the best in class here, and he doesn’t disappoint. Fingerpicked acoustics drill up the middle as White reminisces of days that fly by as the band slips into the measured fray beside him, driving the song up a notch and clearing a dynamic path for acoustic embellishments and the crowded end game crescendo. You can tell that they’re having fun, and to me, that’s what makes this work so well.
“Moonflower” is a three quarter-timed number that reminds me of old Irish drinking chants or credos of comrades in arms. Pianos roll 1970s gold as White once again utilizes his “supersized” vocal choruses over the top of accordions, acoustic guitars and—do I hear glasses clinking in the background? Audience chatter mixes boisterously under White’s Michael Stipe croon as the band takes the party to the top of the pops.
“Nothin’ I Wouldn’t Do” kicks into Aretha Franklin meets The Pointer Sisters territory with a little cynical vocal sting of John Lennon. Organs whirl subtly as White leads his gospel of the blues into a New Orleans vibe street party. Horns buzz, handclaps rule, and electric blues guitar riffs rant as White ices it up with smooth lines of love, love, love.
“Dream A Dream” is White’s best shot for airplay here. Immediately likeable, “Dream A Dream” possesses that rare and quizzical magic that creates a memorable song from the get-go. Melodic choices are pure and beautifully plucked from the imagination of a songwriter deep in the moment of creativity. No garish overtones or unnecessary musical adornments pain this dynamic beauty. Stark and easily identifiable as a hit, “Dream A Dream” sleepwalks into its own unique splendor. This is the song that shows Danny White coming into his own as a composer. It takes years of combined elements to exorcise and/or unify the writer’s demons, and this is the one that vindicates White’s dedication to his chosen style.
“The Passing Thoughts In A Small Town” is a well-constructed tune that really reminds me of early Jackson Browne. Slow and unhurried, White and crew lay out that California-lite sound complete with slick vocal choruses, organs, and gut-pulling violins. Emotional pauses in the bridge overlap pianos and organ pans that usher White back into the verse and focus of the song as the band recedes into its Pacifica, summertime fade.
The dark, sweet tone of “If We Never Meet Again” is yet another action that shows a different Danny White. Violins spiral through tumbling sheets of analog warm pianos, whimsically stroked acoustic guitars and understated bass performance. White’s reverb-drenched vocal is seasoned here, drawing on the impassioned inspirations of inevitable truths we all face in lost opportunity, relationship disintegration and the never-ending journey of our fate-based connection. Lyrically speaking, White scores over the top with his ability to reach back in melancholy time while thinking ahead, and “If We Never Meet Again” is a song that really makes this CD shine.
All in all, the disc boasts 12 tunes of atonement and heartfelt communications. Gone are the early days of tongue-in-cheek one-liners and turnaround tunes. White has moved forward, replacing the past with a series of succinct and workable musical pieces that explain where he’s coming from and where he’s heading. If We Never Meet Again is a great demonstration of his musical intent and well worth exploring.
Danny White will be releasing his new disc at a special show this Friday, Nov. 15, at the legendary Stone Pony in Asbury Park. For more information on Danny White and his musical menagerie, head over to dannywhite.com.
Casino Sundae Open For The Smithereens – Black Friday! Nov. 29 – The Stone Pony
Casino Sundae are a New Jersey-based band that’s been churning their unique blend of sweet-toothed rock and roll here in the Tri-State Area. Boasting a new record in the works, a big, talented band and a high-profile show, Casino Sundae are on point to break the next barrier in their quest to be the best. The group has been together for just over three years, and in that time they’ve become a popular mainstay at clubs such as The Court Tavern in New Brunswick, Garwood’s own Crossroads, the Brighton Bar, and Asbury mainstays The Saint and The Stone Pony.
As mentioned above, Casino Sundae are hard at work finishing up their latest record, Retrograde. Consisting of 13 songs, Retrograde was recorded at Exeter Recording Studios in Freehold, NJ, and demonstrates the consistent, high-energy style of a band that mixes alt rock with the traditional goodness of 1980s punk and power pop.
The disk features many folks that I’m familiar with, including Matthew Lott (Tony Tedesco & Full Fathom Five) on saxophone for at least three interesting tracks.
Casino Sundae will have the envious position of opening for The Smithereens on Nov. 29 at the legendary Stone Pony. Yes, Black Friday has a redeeming value after all, and it’s going to take place at the Pony’s inside stage.
This is a hard-working band that’s taking the necessary steps to get things done their way, the right way. Come support New Jersey’s original scene on Nov. 29 with Casino Sundae and the world famous Smithereens.
The band is comprised of songwriter, singer and guitarist Brian Stabile, guitarist/vocalist John Zermeno, bassist/vocalist Kim Blackbourn and drummer Bobby Artale. For more information on the show or to sample the new record, head over to casinosundae.bandcamp.com.