The Random Hubiak Recommends: John DePalma
It’s been a couple of weeks since I sent a recommendation, but this latest one is another close-to-my-heart recommendation because it comes from somebody who is not only an excellent performer but also a dear friend.
John DePalma, who is known for his work in the vocal group Uptown Express and his years of cabaret performances in New York City, finally has his new album, SOMETHING SHINY, out. The album is a song cycle chronicling his love affair with New York City, and it’s a gorgeous listen.
The songs are mostly covers (by a variety of songwriters including Joni Mitchell, Dar Williams, Randy Newman, Elton John, and Tom Waits — all personal favourites of mine as well!) and a handful of originals. What makes this album truly special, besides the choice of superlative materials by consummate songwriters, is John’s immaculate interpretations, which always feel not only heartfelt and genuine but also intimate and confessional.
John belongs to an old school of pop vocal stylings, one in which twenty-two grace notes per word was not only considered unnecessary but, indeed, considered an admission of failure of either material or interpretation: Good material doesn’t need tarting up, and good singers comprehend their subject matter well enough to know that a few elisions here and there suffice to imbue a good song with a unique singer’s hallmark. As such, these songs come to you directly rather than the filter of pyrotechnic vocal contortions.
I’m also proud to boast that my own backing band appears on several of the songs on this album, all in service to the tastefully restrained arrangements that make these songs stand out in bold contrast to the busy-ness of much pop musical arrangement today.
The New York Arts Review has a wonderful (five-star, no less!) write-up of John’s album here.
You can buy a hard copy of SOMETHING SHINY directly at THIS LINK.
Finally, you can hear John in several of my own playlists on Spotify, including my “Anchors Aweigh” playlist at this link. Here are the contents of the playlist itself:
The Random Hubiak — Anchors Aweigh
Josh Groban — Dust and Ashes
Billy Joel — And So It Goes
Stevie Nick — Sleeping Angel
John DePalma — Night in the City
New Radicals — Crying Like a Church on Monday
Aimee Mann — Wise Up
Prince — Sometimes It Snows in April
Chrissie Límos — How Do I
Fleetwood Mac — Beautiful Child
Mandy Patinkin — Bein” Green
John DePalma — I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City/Shiver Me Timbers
Cold Weather Company — When You Run
Mark Sylvester — Dance of the Misfits
Janis Ian — Lover’s Lullabye
Billy Joel — Lullabye
Kim Carnes — My Old Pals
John DePalma — Goodbye New York
John DePalma — Blame It On My Youth
Tom Waits — Shiver Me Timbers