Michael Pennacchio "Better in the Morning"

Michael Pennacchio
"Better in the Morning"
CD Baby

CD review by Roger-Z (03/29/14)

Michael Pennacchio, a Brooklyn, NY based singer-songwriter, spares no detail when describing the inner turmoil of a recovering addict on his debut EP, "Better in the Morning." Produced by renowned Westchester slide-guitarist, Geoff Hartwell, the simpatico collaborators color between the lines -- Michael Pennacchio (guitar/vocals), Geoff Hartwell (slide guitar, banjo, mandolin), Chris Burke (keyboards), Rich Kelly (bass), Matt Graff (drums), Joe Holliday (drums), Ana Leinbach (fiddle/vocals), Jess Erick and Mani Cregan (vocals).

Pennacchio juxtaposes deep despair with jubilant exhilaration on his journey from servitude to freedom. "Heart Beat" provides the jump off point as he sings in a clear, plaintive voice, "Let the smoke pour through your lungs. Let it into your heart. Let it into your blood. Let's get to the heart of these addictions. So your friend went away... But he didn't tell you he was leaving. You stick a bill up your nose and you start to blow. Let it into your brain. Let it into your soul... Listen to your heart beat. Let it make you feel numb. And it seems so insane. Friends dead with a needle in her vein." The struggle continues with the lighter, tongue-in-cheek, country ditty, "My Next Life." Pennacchio finds it difficult "to be a human being." So he explores alternatives. After all, how hard could it be to be a dog, or a bird, or even a tree? Seems he'd rather continue as a human after all! Terrific piano by Chris Burke. In the Irish jig, "Glad to Be Alive," our hero sighs a breath of relief. "I didn't wanna feel. I didn't wanna love. I didn't wanna heal... Oh damn am I glad to be alive!"

When you hear pain, bet on the lingering odor of romance. In the "Soul Switching" waltz, "Our souls switch bodies on a Wednesday. Mine was tired. Hers was lonesome... There were in-betweens and go-betweens and promises forgotten. But we gave more than we thought we could lose." Burke's organ tattoos the song. As we all know, everything looks "Better in the Morning." Led by Hartwell's jaunty mandolin and banjo and Leinbach's fiddle, Pennacchio admits, "Call it consequence, that's fine. But you've clearly missed the point. And I need sleep. That I'm alright and it gets better in the morning."

Michael Pennacchio lays open his anguish like a large, tied-off, throbbing vein. And he does it through catchy sing-along songs! Moving, brutal, and captivating all at the same time!

2014 Roger-Z