Critically acclaimed New Jersey blues group The Danny Petroni Blue Project hails from Asbury Park, New Jersey and was born out of a massive natural disaster. After Superstorm Sandy hit the coast, music productions all but stopped. Danny Petroni set out to put local musicians to work and, with the goal of employing local musicians and using local music production affected by the storm, they recorded an album of Petroni’s original compositions, The Blue Project. Released on November 27, 2013, this mainly blues album also contains clear jazz and rock flavours. Highlights include Frank Lacy’s deep voice, beautiful horn arrangements, and infectious big band sounds.
The first two songs are typical “that woman is fine” songs. But despite the fact that they are the kind you should just enjoy without taking seriously, their lyrics still make me uncomfortable. The musical delivery and the sung vocals, however, are impeccable, as they are throughout the album. The opening “I’ve Seen Everything” sings about a particular woman’s amazing booty, while the following “Taste Like Chicken” glorifies a particular woman’s shaking derrière. It surely comes as no surprise that the lyrics of this song also left me unimpressed.
The album changes tone with its next two songs seeming to come straight out of the 1960s. “God of War” conveys a protest fueled by deep, calm anger set in an instrumental arrangement influenced by classic rock sounds. In “Requiem for the Working Man”, Petroni writes about a hard-working man laid off because of outsourcing. The soulful vocals make this song particularly poignant, and the musical arrangement make for a perfect accompaniment to this story.
“Changed My Ways” is a beautiful ballad conveying regret for the past and hope for the future that swings you into its arms from the first notes. It’s followed by the rhythm-driven, funky “Cracker Jack” which features a lot of instrumentation showcasing both Petroni’s composing skills and the band’s instrumental skills, especially when it comes to horns. The quirky title of the next song, “Peanut Butter & Jelly” makes eating a classic America combination of the same name a lot cooler than I ever thought I would be. If I were a Kraft representative, I would jump on this song to create a marketing campaign based on making this comfort food cool.
While I do not enjoy “Hey You’re Looking Good” that much—its staccato feel comes as a sharp contrast to the flow of the rest of the album—it does feature some very enjoyable horn arrangements. The smooth, blues sound of the penultimate “Mouse in the House” makes me feel like I’m stepping into a dimly lit jazz and blues music lounge filled with smoke and soft conversation, only to be surrounded by a soulful voice and accompanying horns. This song is one of my favourites on the album. “Diminishing Returns” is an electric guitar solo, a beautiful instrumental piece in which different world sounds appear that ends the album on the right note.
Other than the first two songs, the lyrics of which I did not appreciate, The Blue Project is a beautiful album that brings together Petroni’s compositions with skillful instrumentalism. The story of how this album was put together is an inspiring story of the coming together of like-minded people focused not on the devastation they had just gone through, but on a bright future they could build together. Danny Petroni (electric guitar, acoustic guitar) brought together the likes of Frank Lacy (lead vocals, trombone, flumpet), Gary Oleyar (violin), Gene Boccia (bass), John P. Allen (drums), and a couple of other contributors who display a cohesive sound that makes one able to believe that they’ve been working together for longer than the year it took to create the timeless sounds of this album. Stream the album in full on SoundCloud, and get more information either on their official website or on their Facebook Page.