Artist: Jack Snax
Album: Lake Songs
Label: Self Releaed
Release Date: 03/01/2017
Multi-instrumentalist and record producer Jack Petruzzelli has worked with Patti Smith, Ian Hunter, Joan Osborne, Rufus Wainwright and Sara Bareilles; he holds the regular keyboard seat in the Fab Faux, as well as contributing guitar and vocals in that famed Beatles’ cover band. Front and center, however, hasn’t been Petruzzelli’s style until now, when he steps out of his sideman role to emerge as Jack Snax.
Snax/Petruzzelli’s musical taste ranges as wide as his résumé, as he demonstrates clearly on this debut CD. Like another famously good snack, Lake Songs is a musical Chex Mix: a little bit of this, a little bit of that, a pairing of wholesome grains and nuts. Something sweet, mostly salty, eat ‘em one bit at a time or by the handful, it’s all good.
Though not the first song, “Want to Believe,” with underpinnings from sir Paul himself, really gets the record going. An upbeat tune paired with almost-hopeful lyrics, this Beatle-esque song has a lovely little hook that creeps up on you, as most of Petruzzelli’s songs do, I discovered. The following cut, “She,” reveals a dreamy, string-infused, acoustic guitar minor-key minor masterpiece that demands several “repeats” before moving on, truly a lovely song. And move on he does, abruptly shifting the tone to a retro, barroom piano rag that could have been ripped from a Kurt Weill operetta, then on to yet another world, a duet with co-writer Joan Osborne (Petruzzelli co-produced Osborne’s Grammy-nominated Bring It On Home CD).
Ah, then “Star Sixty Four” – a particularly exquisite electric guitar instrumental which I hope is not named for *64, to block incoming calls, because, believe me, you don’t want to miss this one. Last, but not least, in case anyone listening started sinking comfortably into the couch with the instrumental, the album concludes with “Anywhere But Here,” offering hard-edged vocals that are tough to reconcile with “She,” but effective, because Snax’s bluesy/jazzy guitar riffs should get anyone’s butt off the an easy chair.
So will the real Jack please step forward? Maybe he doesn’t need to, if listeners are willing to shift gears quickly. If I had to lodge a complaint, at seven songs, this mixed Snax bag left me hungry for a little more.