With the hook-filled and infectious Trust Your Instincts, Detroit-area Power Pop veteran Nick Piunti has made his best album so far. This is not hyperbole. There are many reasons why so many music reviewers and bloggers are making such a big deal about it.
Make no mistake, Trust Your Instincts has all the hallmarks of a great Nick Piunti album (and they’re all great). Fans will recognize his edgy, guitar-based band arrangements, his signature wordplay (see “As Far As I Throw”), his themes of loss and longing and the familiar pop influences which pervade the grooves.
Nick has been writing and recording since the early days of his first band Dwarf (1972 – 1986). More recently, he released a handful of albums with his band, The Respectables (2005-2010). But with each new solo release (2013 – today), Nick’s songwriting has grown incrementally tighter and more commercial and his artistry has continued to mature. This is especially noticeable in the finer details, like his well-crafted bridge sections, and his meta last line of “Stay Where You Are:” “I think I’m gonna fade out.”
Piunti has never sounded more confident. His vocals and harmonies (see “One Hit Wonder”) are his strongest yet. The album mix is gorgeous.
His world-class band (primarily Nick on vocals and guitars, Donny Brown on drums, Andy Reed on bass & synth, Ryan Allen on additional guitars) is firing on all cylinders and in harmony with one another. Nick has clearly trusted each player with more freedom within the song arrangements. At every opportunity, they conspire to lob sneaky little molotov cocktails of melodic catchiness at your ear canals, setting off chain reactions in stereo. (See “Blame in Vain.”)
On Mr. Piunti’s previous album, the lack of keyboards threatened to limit the amount variety of depth in the arrangements. But with his latest endeavor, there’s more color and texture in the guitar chords bass parts and stereophonic effects than ever before, making the overall sound fuller and more interesting without the need for synth layering. Just listen to “Stay Where You Are” and “This Ain’t the Movies” for proof:
No opportunity for a musical hook is wasted and yet, thanks in no small part to the steady and tasteful drumming, there’s still plenty of space for the music to breathe. “Vaguely Familiar” demonstrates this perfectly. I also like the way the ending chord doesn’t resolve.
One thing is certain about Trust Your Instincts. Nick has learned to listen to his own advice.
Trust Your Instincts by Nick Piunti is available at iTunes, Amazon.com, Bandcamp and more.
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Dave Caruso is a melodic pop indie songwriter, singer and multi-instrumentalist from Detroit, Michigan. His influences include: Elvis Costello, Neil Finn, Elton John, Del Amitri, Ben Folds, The Beach Boys and The Beatles.