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Album Review

John DeNicola – ‘She Said’ [Album Review]

Lusciously creamy pop… one way to describe award-winning songwriter and producer, John DeNicola’s sophomore album, ‘She Said,’ via his label Omad Records.



Award-winning songwriter and producer, John DeNicola releases his sophomore album, She Said, which follows his first album, 2019’s The Why Because. (Read our review of that record here.)

Talking about She Said, DeNicola shares, “The groundwork laid down on ‘The Why Because’ gave me the confidence to do another record right on its heels. I holed up in my barn studio and built these tracks from scratch, playing all different instruments from guitars to synths, sitar to congas. I’m comfortable working this way, yet it was new for me and really fun to write purely about what I wanted to say.”

Most people have heard songs written by DeNicola even though they may not know his name. He grew up on Long Island, and later was a member of Flight, a jazz-fusion band, which dropped Excursion Beyond via Motown. Collaborating with Franke Previte, the two wrote “(I Had) The Time of My Life” and “Hungry Eyes.” The result? An Oscar, a Golden Globe, a Grammy Nomination, and ASCAP’s Songwriter of the Year award.

Success translates to freedom. DeNicola used his freedom to look after new talent, such as Kara’s Flowers, a band who eventually changed their name to Maroon 5, along with starting his own label, Omad Records.

According to DeNicola, “I had the opportunity to continue in the business and build relationships with people from all aspects of the music world.”

Patti Maloney provided the lyrics on four of the album’s tracks, along with Keith Reid (of Procul Harum), who wrote the lyrics for “Battered Cloth.” Musicians appearing on the album include Vinny Jessel, Ray Weiss, Zonder Kennedy, Jake DeNicola, Chris Ryan, Blake Fleming, Brian Delaney, Ken Favre, Alan Zahn, and Brad Davidson.

The album took shape during the pandemic and, while not designed as a concept album, the song sequence displays a story.

“There’s a narrative arc that begins with loving someone and loving each other as humans, countered by a warning of what’s happening to our planet and in our country, that winds up with at least the possibility of redemption,” says DeNicola. “Rather than a string of singles, I’m hoping that this comes off as a full album that takes the listener on a bit of a journey.”

John DeNicola by Casey Steffans

Encompassing 10 tracks, entry points include the title track, riding a lusciously creamy pop melody topped by DeNicola’s lush falsetto. Whereas the retro-flavours of “High” summon up memories of the Bee Gees’ “Emotion,” blending smooth, velvety vocals with layers of alluring colours. A psychedelic breakdown shifts the harmonic flow and then returns to leitmotifs as silky as soft-serve ice cream.

The Eagles-esque “Battered Cloth” travels on poignant coloration rife with nostalgic vocals reminiscent of Don Henley. As the melody shimmers with mists of melancholy, the lyrics conjure up spectral memories.

DeNicola’s cover of Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home,” written by Steve Winwood, is well-worth listening to – not because it’s so innovative, but because the changing the rhythmic inflections and instrumental highlights gives the song compelling expansion.

Reflecting on She Said, John DeNicola says, “These songs came together organically and rather easily, revealing themselves on an unconscious level, yet were nonetheless written in the midst of a pandemic, a challenge to our democracy, and some stark realizations about race relations—an overriding disappointment in the way Americans see each other.”

She Said Track Listing:

1. She Said
2. Love Divine
3. High
4. Float On Hope
5. Morning Dew
6. Breathe Deep
7. Battered Cloth
8. Our Day Will Come
9. Can’t Find My Way Home
10. Sky

Run Time: 42:14
Release Date: November 5, 2021
Record Label: Omad Records