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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Peter Vitalone

This Side of the Dirt

Review by Gary Hill

This is one of two albums from Peter Vitalone that I’m reviewing this issue. Of the two, I like this one the best. That’s because it has a few songs (the final three and one other) that are really special. Those tunes elevate this into the “stellar” territory. If you are looking to sample this artist, I’d say start with this set. It’s well worth having.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Into Me

This song is built on a classic 1970s rock kind of sound. I’m not overly convinced about all the vocals here. Still, the music and song construction go along way to making this thing work.

Every Day is Yesterday (Down South)
The organ lends a nice retro element to the piece. I like the piano work on this, too. There is a bit of bluesy element at play here. Some of the guitar brings hints of country music, too. This is a fun rocker with a vintage sound.
This Side of the Dirt
In some ways the title track is more of a no frills rocker. It has some hints of progressive rock and jazz in the mix, though.
Old Friend
Coming in with just keyboards, this is mellow balladic piece. It’s pretty, but also a bit melancholy The more rocking section almost reminds me of Supertramp a bit.
Another Night Fallen
Another ballad, this is just piano and voice. It’s a pretty one for sure. It’s packed with emotion, and seems to be about regret. This is completely mellow.
Man Alone
A real rocker, this has a great soulful groove. It’s very much tied to electric blues. It’s one of the best tunes of the set, too. The sound is still classic, and it just really works so well.
In the Morning
A mellower, folk based tune, this is a good change. It’s gentle and makes me think of both Elton John and Billy Joel. It gets a bit more powered up as it works forward, but remains reasonably sedate.
Sofia
This might be the best song here. There is a cool slow rocking element to it. The female vocals lend a soulful air. The thing is, the tune would have it without those vocals. It’s built into the DNA. I really love this tune. It’s worth the price of admission by itself.
Living on the Ledge
Another emotional and powered up ballad, this is yet another standout cut. It’s so powerful.
End of the Line
Another balladic number, normally I’d think that perhaps these last two songs should have been split apart with a rocker. Additionally, I’m not a big fan of closing an album with a mellow song. In this case, it works. To a large degree that’s because these songs are so strong and so evocative. This is essentially a piano and vocal tune, but there are other elements later. I suppose the Billy Joel comparison makes sense on this number, too. The bit of electronic sound at the end kind of takes away from the effectiveness as a closer. I’m sure it was supposed to be clever, but it comes across as a bit cheesy.
 
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