Nick Piazza

Only A Northern Thing

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Local Music, Artist Feature,   From Issue 757   By: Robert 'Bo' White

11th October, 2012     0

Nick Piazza is a transplanted Michigander, now residing in Texas. He hooked up with Andy Reed in 2009 to record his very first song, Summer Moon  - and he's never looked back. He was bitten by the bug and got a major dose of rockin' pneumonia and the boogie woogie flu. He completed Evolution, his first full CD, in May 2010 and continued to write and record the music for what became Only A Northern Thing.
Piazza gathered together a cast of mid-Michigan's musical aristocracy for the project and they jumped at the invitation. Andy Reed, Ray Torres, Donny Brown, Jeff Wiles and James Piazza contributed their incredible talent and vision to the recording sessions. This is certainly a triumphant musical reunion for our home grown singer/songwriter. A true believer.
Downtown Woman - is good old fashioned rock & roll with a big backbeat and solid guitar work mixed back in the groove. Piazza's slender tenor is ready willing and able. He sounds like Gerry Rafferty after he took a fistful of black beauties after a two day bender of rock & roll, booze and broads only without the attitude. The background vocals are exquisite and ray Torres guitar work is breathtaking.  Great track
Houston - is a hot little rocker with Beach Boys harmonies and a big backbeat. This is dance music with hooks galore. It rocks hard but never loses its melodic sensibility thanks to super-producer and melody man Andy Reed. Piazza has a malleable voice and he sounds a bit like Alan Wilson (Canned Heat) going Up the Country. This song is smooth as silk yet it makes you want to smile and get up on the dance floor
Movin' On -  is an acoustic shuffle with plenty of energy and good vibes. There is sly reference to “Sexy Sadie” but with Reed onboard and twirling the dials you gotta know there will be at least one overt reference to the Beatles. Reed provides a melodic slide that brightens the sound and fills out some spaces in the musical landscape. There is an overarching sense of hope even as Piazza sings about struggling on his own. Movin' On is what young adults do as a matter of course; a rite of passage. It doesn't matter that there are problems wherever you go. You can buy the illusion of Southern California or the banshee death wail in Saginaw.
Traffic Jam - opens up with truncated piano chords reminiscent of Nilsson's Gotta Get Up. The lyrical line conveys a weary wisdom, discovery that life is not quite like it seems. Young men and women pick up and leave their roots behind. They follow the light of promise but the tunnel goes on forever like a black hole in the universe. And they never really live the dream. It doesn't quite exist but it does; only it's different. When they discover that the natural state for a thoughtful person is melancholia, there is nothing left to say.
On the Road - The jangly guitar washes over the song like Southern California sunshine. It creates an upbeat vibe despite the underlying loneliness in the lyrics. Piazza sings with a smile in his voice. It's convincing to even when you're stirred by his ambivalence. Underneath the good cheer are doubts that speak to his ennui: “I hitched a ride on a one way train / Never got a chance to tell you my name / It's the same old story / Just a different day
Leaving Here - The moan of Reed's slide guitar colors the song's sense of resignation. Piazza is singing outside himself almost dissociated from his surroundings, He views the world from his own psychological window. Hope and despair co-mingle as he watches the world go by. He's not afraid and he needs no friends. It's as if he gets too close, he will lose himself and fall into the stasis of the status quo. They say goodbye; he says hello.
Working Man Blues - Opens with some tasty chops fired off like holy gunfire courtesy of guitar wizard Ray Torres with help from Saginaw's rock & roll attorney Jim Piazza. This is old time boogie woogie rock & roll barbecue music. It sounds sweet and tasty. Piazza is singing his ass off and drummer extraordinaire Donny Brown (Verve Pipe, American Underdog) knocks it outta the park with his powerful backbeat. He keeps time like a water clock. Keep it flowing, brother. Another great track!
It's Only a Northern Thing -  Opens with a half borrowed riff from Van “The Man” Morrison. It jumps and jives and so did Morrison only in all the fifty years he's been performing onstage Van never smiled, not once. But Piazza does and his honey toned voice reflects his balance. He's not a tortured artist and he would cut off his ear to make a statement like a love you, sorta. This is a rock & roll ballad about love and reminiscing. His lyrics are a dialectical delight; “I think with my heart because I've lost my mind” - Perfect.  Reed's keyboard work is pure genius. The sounds ring and moan like an ancient mellotron used by the Moody Blues
Another Wasted Saturday: -  This is a standout track that hops and bops to a swinging rockabilly beat and a cool walking bassline. It has a tricky stop & go time and some tasty sax-on-the-beach courtesy of Jeff Wiles. Reed was able to sneak in another Beatle reference, the “shoo be-do-wop” background on the partially live version of Revolution from a 1968 promotional film. Reed creates a full and crisp sound in his studio and brings out the best in everyone.  The song itself is a sonic blast of perfection from the saxophone, guitar, bassline, and backbeat to Piazza's singing and the background Beatles.
Last Call - is a sweet acoustic goodbye; A last farewell. Piazza is able to breathe life into his stories with a great sense of melody and harmony and his natural facility for pathos and irony. This is a hard won lyrical coming of age for Piazza - a perfect ending for a heartfelt piece of music created by the everyman.


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