Your crusty chronicler generally does his own thing. Still, when Examiner asked for support for their “List” format, it was impossible not to be open-minded. So, with that spirit in mind, your rockin’ reviewer presents this series—“Track by Track” in which we review certain select CDs “track by track”.
This edition, we peruse singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist John Enghauser’s new album Reality. Here Enghauser provides listeners with a musical reality check focusing on the way things are as opposed to how we wish they would be. On this twelve-track disc Enghauser (lead vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards and percussion) is backed by an assortment of additional artists including: Dicki Fliszar (drums) and Eric Holden (bass).
The album opener is a song titled “Black Dress”. This one is a somewhat seductive rock song that features co-producer Joerg Stoeffel on electric guitar. It’s a strong enough lead-in but more is yet to come.
(View the list to learn more about Enghauser’s new CD.)
“Keep Your Jacket On”
The second song on the album is “Keep Your Jacket On”. This one is a blues-influenced, guitar-based bit about infidelity. Here a cheating woman is pretty much told to keep her jacket on because her jilted man is kicking her out. This has got to be even better played live. It just has that vibe to it. Kim DesChampes is featured on steel guitar.
The titular track, “Reality”, takes a much welcomed clever, satirical shot at reality TV and everything about the so-called “stars”. It features an interesting horn section that helps make the cut stand out. The guest musicians here are Kyle Newmaska on trumpet and flugelhorn, Scott Hughes on trombone and Jerry Moore on tenor and baritone sax.
“Tears of Yesterday”
The next number is titled “Tears of Yesterday”. This one is mid-tempo jazz shuffle of sorts. It’s vaguely reminiscent of Steely Dan This one includes encore performances by Newmaska, Hughes and Moore. It’s followed by the rockin’ “Shadowatch”. This is another example of Enghauser’s abilities as both a writer and a performer.
The sixth selection is “Tower”. This is a somewhat prog-influenced piece that Enghauser revisits. This was the noteworthy closing cut to his previous platter Lost In The Pages. He returns to this once more at the end of this album of all original material. It helps demonstrate Enghauser’s ability to use different aspects of multiple music genres.
“We Hear Your Cry”
“We Hear Your Cry” initially quiets things down a bit. Enghauser says the song lyrics were originally only a poem he had written when he “saw the news a couple of years ago about the stolen votes in Iran” and it reflects his thoughts “on thirty years of oppression there.”
“The Slightest Thing”
“The Slightest Thing” follows here. This is a “slightly” humorous song that contains a kernel of truth and honesty within the lyrics. Here Enghauser also brings back the boys on the horns: Newmaska, Hughes and Moore. It’s interesting to see the different ways Enghauser can effectively employ the guest horn section.
Enghauser stretches a bit with the next song “Rubberband”. Here he bounces back with another shuffle-like track. The lyrics tell the tuneful tale of a woman who dominates her boyfriend (and not in a good way). Newmaska, Hughes, Moore and Stoeffel all add their respective talents to this one as well.
“Let’s Get Out of Our Own Way”
“Let’s Get Out of Our Own Way” is perhaps a piece Enghauser meant to serve as an apology of sorts or perhaps an explanation for the failure of a past relationship. More likely it could very well be a musically-made proposition for a second chance. Hughes brings in his trombone again to flesh out the sound.
“This Fate I See”
“This Fate I See” is a cut containing an underlying funky groove and rather hopeful, optimistic lyrics to boot. Perhaps the reality of life is that no matter how much life all too often might suck, there’s always a silver lining to the cloud and one shouldn’t simply give up.
The album’s end-note is “Tower, Pt.2”. This is the second half of the previously mentioned (and recorded) prog-influenced piece. While one might wonder why Enghauser reworked the same piece multiple times it shouldn’t stop listeners from appreciating his efforts. Newmaska, Hughes, Moore and Stoeffel join in one final time to wrap up and tie down the project. Already nominated for the 2013 Los Angeles Music Awards: “Hot AC Artist of the Year;” and “Hot AC Album of the Year”, this new disc by John Enghauser contains some of his most interesting, fun yet relevant material to date and that is the “Reality”.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.