The opening “Where Am I Going?” comes from an old Bernard Herrmann movie score, and its lugubrious sound would confound listeners into thinking he’d turned into Mark Eitzel from American Music Club. But it’s a false alarm, as the next track, and most everything that follows, could easily be a Smithereens track. It’s all there: melody, chord changes, toe-tapping beats. Perhaps some different faces in the studio were just the shot in the arm he needed.
The lyrics are still what we’d expect from the sad sack of Scotch Plains, given the lovelorn content of “No Love Lost” and “A World Apart”. “124 MPH” has a boomy demo quality for a difference, while “Today It’s You” is almost nasty. Contemporary reviews compared his delivery to the mature Elvis Costello, and similarities can be heard on that track and even the lullaby for “Liza” (though she’d probably sleep better if he strummed the acoustic a little more quietly).
Most of Songs And Sounds is slower than punk speed, which isn’t that big a deal, except that it makes the closing cover of “I’d Rather Have The Blues” more of a downer, the studio-verité excerpt hidden at the end notwithstanding. Naturally, the album made no impact on the charts, but it’s still worth discovering.
Pat DiNizio Songs And Sounds (1997)—3