Anthony D’Amato “Five Songs From New Orleans” EP (Elk, 2019)

A true ‘does what it says on the tin’ record, this EP comes steeped in the sounds and spirit of The Big Easy. New Jersey native Anthony D’Amato is one of those artists that always seem to tour, often as support to more established Americana acts when they visit our shores. Indeed, after three months of constant touring in Europe, he took an opportunity to house sit for a month in a 19th Century New Orleans Garden District home, taking  a mini studio and writing the bones of tracks on his guitar.

Meeting local musicians, he promptly gathered some of the cream of local acoustic talent and encouraged them to play creatively around the songs, each distinct with different instrumentation and style, but all reflecting his locale, and recorded in the living room of his house-sit. ‘Everything Between’ is simple but laden with sweet cello. ‘Some Folks’ is sung as harmonies with swathes of the rarely heard and much underrated viola flowing around the tune. ‘Metairie’ – a Louisiana city near the swampy flood bowl – goes full Cajun with echo effect guitar mixing with more viola and stompy washboard. It would have fitted well on an episode of True Blood, indeed having a similar feel to Jace Everett’s theme song for the series. ‘Wrong Shade of Blue’ has all the parts of a string quartet at times, with stately upright bass and fiddle prominent in this slower song.

The EP ends appropriately with ‘Party’s Over’ which is full of wonderful clarinet, another under used instrument. Both dirgey and bright, it would be ideal for a Treme funeral parade. A bonus clarinet coda completes this brief but sweetly different EP of place and virtuosity.

Does what it says on the tin, with a flourish
7/10

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