Music Legend (Singer/Songwriter/Producer) John DeNicola starts off his new album She Said with its title track. His ability with pure R&B and soul is unquestionable but are hints of funk around its edges. It wound sound unconvincing in lesser hands. DeNicola, however, understands that great music sounds natural, never forced. “She Said” has a languid and well-produced mix of keyboards, synths, pre-programmed instrumentation, and a slinky bass carrying it forward. It’s a pleasure to hear from its first second to last.
You can, if you like, divide the album’s ten songs into three different camps. There are the outright pop songs such as “High”, “Breathe Deep”, “Our Day Will Come”, and the album’s second song “Love Divine”. The latter has the hallmarks of a lead single. The song’s well-defined verses, chorus, and DeNicola’s energetic singing spark the performance with a level of urgency appealing to many listeners.
The other camp are the more lyrically advanced tracks. There is some overlap here as DeNicola treats the album’s words as far more than an afterthought like so many others. However, the gulf between the terse yet intelligent economy of “She Said” and the collection’s finale “Sky” is real and substantial. His collaboration on this song with Jason Stutts, aka Rust Dust, brings She Said to a brooding acoustic close and its lyrics are among the most poetic I’ve heard on a recent release.
“Battered Cloth” marks the first time I’ve heard a new Keith Reid lyric in many years. The lyricist behind some of rock’s finest songs including “A Whiter Shade of Pale”, “Conquistador”, and and and “homburg”, among others. He’s found an exemplary musical partner with DeNicola and their songwriting mixes near-theatrical pop and folkie acoustic guitar with stellar results. It may seem cliché to suggest it, but I have a feeling he related to the song’s lyric on a more personal level than most. It’s one of Reid’s finest recorded lyrics in many years.
DeNicola’s covers for the album are first rate. “Can’t Find My Way Home” is the standout, however, and that’s all the more impressive considering the song’s pedigree steeped in rock royalty. The original Blind Faith version boasts no less than half of Cream, Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker, with lead singer Steve Winwood. The bar is high. DeNicola clears it with room to spare, however, and never attempts to ape the classic original. It’s a more than worthy inclusion on an album dominated by his originals.
John DeNicola “She Said” The muse works in mysterious ways. Case in point: John DeNicola. After some five decades in the recording industry, the award-winning songwriter and producer made his first solo album “The Why Because” as an artist in 2019 which spawned a top 20 AC hit with his version of “Hungry Eyes”.
She Said is a fulfilling release from beginning to end. You won’t hear any filler among the album’s ten songs; it’s clear he carefully planned this outing and likely didn’t move on recording the songs until he was sure he had the ones he wanted and as many as needed. John DeNicola’s songwriting prowess is stronger than ever and, despite several decades in the music world, he shows no signs of slowing down. If anything, he hasn’t even hit his peak yet, based on this album. It’s a real powerhouse and invites you to keep coming back for more.