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Onemind Presents Onemind

Joe Pernice - Could It Be Magic

ASHMONT RECORDS

  • £12.22

Cat. no: CDASHM020
Format: CD
Barcode: 634457036932
Release Date: 8th January 2021
Genre: Indie

Joe Pernice covers Barry Manilow
Barry Manilow’s music is a part of anyone and everyone who was anywhere near a radio in the 70s and 80s and the decades since. I’m not saying I was a big fan, growing up. But Manilow was the sonic, floral wallpaper of the era, as ubiquitous as the airwaves on which it sailed.

Back then, I hadn’t yet picked up on Frank Sinatra’s ring-a-ding, either, but both artists were already linchpins of the American songbook. Of Manilow, Sinatra once said, “He’s next.”

They are both, of course, quintessential showmen. While Manilow is a great songwriter, many of his hits were written by others. Which also strikes me as important. He didn’t write them: He chose them. He selected honest, generous, intelligent music with story and style, delivered it with passion and gusto and showbiz razzle. He’s had tremendous highs and his share of lows, and he finds music that bares his soul—I think, to help us feel, too.

I’d heard “Mandy” a thousand times, and never caught that “nothing is rhyming” line until Joe sent me some demo recordings for this album. Devastating. It is Music, not Manilow nor me or Pernice that writes the songs, and the day could come that Music declines to provide. The boy with the schnozz from the then-rough neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn certainly knows that sad songs, they say so much.

So, what does Joe Pernice bring to the picture with this beautiful collection? From a man whose Pernice Brothers music I’ve loved for years, the joyously jangly guitars, soaring harmonies, and arch, sardonic lyrics, this homage to someone else’s work is, in some ways, the most personal music Joe has released. 

For me, his vulnerable interpretations strip away the showbiz entirely, invite us into a quiet room with two very soft and comfortable chairs. Maybe Joe pours us some tea, and then, he plays this music as simply as it could possibly be played; no sequins, no orchestra, just Joe and you.

The plan was to call this album, “Barely Manilow,” but Joe discovered that a tribute band had already claimed that name. And now, he’s pleased to have dropped the jokey title. “I want to avoid even a whiff of irony,” he says. “I remember hearing ‘Mandy’ as a kid, and it was so beautiful, I cried—and I was surprised by the tears. So I wanted to treat these songs with the same respect Barry did. I’m hoping my interpretations help them get inside people in a different way.”

Tracks: Ready To Take a Chance Again / Even Now / Tryin’ To Get the Feeling Again / Ships / Weekend in New England / Mandy / Looks Like We Made It / Could It Be Magic

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