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Waltzing Through Quicksand
© 2008 Third Floor Chalet Songs

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Frank Critelli
Waltzing Through Quicksand

Total Time: 45:17
Cost: $9.98 + s/h*

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STYLE: Singer/Songwriter

HOME TOWN: New Haven/Meriden, CT

Visit Frank Critelli's WEB SITE
& MySpace page 

Frank Critelli

1. I Sigh
2. This Predicament
3. What I Did
4. What I Chose
5. Only She Knows
6. Goodbye (Hello)
7. Conversation in a Laundromat
8. Another Day
9. On
10. Orbiter
11. Come Away
12. Have a Good Time

Check out Frank's New LIMITED EDITION CD: A Rat's Dose
Also by Frank: Before You Break,
Both / And, even more CDs by: Frank Critelli
and Check out Frank's side project:
Brutally Frank

Issue #102                               Feb. ‘07

Frank Critelli is a veteran musician; his new album, Waltzing Through Quicksand, is his sixth studio release. Add to that various side projects, one-offs, collaborations, and his relentless gig schedule, and you realize that Frank is a professional.

The problem is that in the digital era (21st century), the music industry has become a quagmire of dashed hopes and broken dreams for many. Why is it when music has become even more accessible in this age that accessibility has doomed the artist? Whether the artist is a major label signed national act or a local independent favorite, it is the oversaturated industry that is swallowing them up. The Artists put their music out there, they step into the quicksand and they slowly sink away, sometimes never to be heard from again. It’s easy to be sucked into the ever expanding bog of overlooked and underappreciated musicians, where some fight the undertow for years while others quietly give up. Too many gifted artists’ contributions to this world are lost as they helplessly disappear from sight (hearing).

After countless years of flinging album after album into the abyss, Frank Critelli says - Fine, I can deal with this, I’m going to throw myself into this quicksand (that has claimed all my music and most of my life, not to mention countless other musicians), but I’m not going to fight and I’m not going to give up either. I’m going to waltz through this with as much dignity, grace, and class as I can. – That alone elevates this album above the muck and mire of what is becoming a wasteland of musical expression.

The amazing part of all this is that Frank accomplishes it with a poetic flare of writing which connects each listener to the song/song cycle/album in intangible ways. For as Frank Critelli waltzes through the quicksand of the ever saddening state of the music industry, he intelligently binds the experiences of everyday real life (his, ours, and everybody else’s) to each story and relates how we are all trapped in our own quicksand. Listening to the progression of the album, the way Frank has created a flow, we slowly understand Frank’s message: Don’t fight, nor give up in the quicksand of life, but waltz through it, with as much dignity, grace, and class as you can – for that is when we can derive the joyfulness that life offers, that is how we can have a good time.

Frank is a teacher by trade, and here he guides us to learn. First he questions whether he’s up for the task – I Sigh lays out his doubts, “I know that life seems / to weaken at the seams / with broken hearts and bitter ends / and unrealized dreams,” with a very smooth contemporary, Americana melody flowing underneath. Progressing in an upbeat fashion, this opening statement carries us along a dreamy landscape that doesn’t profess to know the answers: “be that as it may / I’m still here today / but ask me what I think that means / it’s hard for me to say / and I try / and I sigh.”

This Predicament continues with Frank still questioning if his efforts are worth the challenge (the quicksand not only swallows you up, but by prolonging the inevitable it causes the mind to wander into fragile and overwhelming territory). The beauty of this song is how Frank has written this personal search for validation of his art (in the concept of humanity) through the eyes of a personal relationship. “Well, I don’t know if you’ve been listening / to what I’ve said so many times already / Maybe I’ve been uninspiring / and that’s a heavy load to carry.” This relates to you as a listener of Frank’s music as much as it relates to the author’s significant other. In the span of 30 seconds, Frank Critelli exposes himself to let us know that we are also his significant other, that he does what he does for us, yet allows the lyrics to connect each listener to their own feelings.

Presented with a chilling downbeat, This Predicament showcases Critelli’s band: Rich Suarez, on drums, lays down a solid foundation with a lot of room for Don Horton’s bass to walk along Frank’s brisk and abrupt whole-chord strumming, with Tory Lawson’s strings catapulting the whole arrangement to the next level. It is this level that multi-instrumentalist Shandy Lawson grasps and maintains throughout the album in his chore as producer of Waltzing, which was also recorded, mixed, and mastered by him in his
Media Park studio, located in Farmington, CT. A great cohesive match, this band (along with the production) is the kind, the good kind, which Frank needs to bring forth the poignancy of his lyrics and arrangements.

By the third song, Frank puts the demons to rest with What I Did. It is as perfect a Johnny Cash tune as you’ll ever hear (in fact if Johnny were still alive I would make it my mission in life to get him to record this song). The band captures the man in black’s ultimate confession, “What I did wasn’t pretty / What I did wasn’t nice / but I did what I did / and I will not do it twice,” with a spot-on take of vintage Cash/Carter Family country. In this, Frank puts forth that we as humans are certainly flawed - “I’ll take responsibility / I’ll take all the blame / but as for my humanity / I will feel no shame / for what I did” - but as long as we can honestly strive to make ourselves better - “I’ll keep on pushing forward / and I’ll keep on falling back / every day / until the day / my world turns to black / for what I did” - then not only can we make those around us better, but we shall be forgiven in the end: “If there is a heaven / I hope I go there / I’ll sing and dance / and raise a glass / as if god didn’t care / what I did.” With that, Frank finalizes his statement of purpose and dives into the results…

The nine remaining tunes of Waltzing evince Frank’s musical roots and find him writing and playing with abandon. Many songs here find him channeling his inner George Harrison (What I Chose, Goodbye (Hello), Orbiter, Come Away). It’s not a stretch to imagine The Traveling Wilburys playing the first two, while the latter two accentuate Shandy Lawson’s George Martin disciple studio skills and production (Can you say Blue Jay Way, Yellow Submarine, and Magical Mystery Tour?). Only She Knows, Conversation in a Laundromat, Another Day, and On all give light to Frank’s knowledge of Jackson Browne’s (late 70s, The Pretender, Running On Empty era) ability to build a solid story, which unfolds around infectious up-beat hooks that mask the dirtiness underneath.

In the end, Frank brings us full circle with Have A Good Time (making this truly an album of continuity – a complete artistic statement from start to finish that flows perfectly for the true listener and connoisseur of music). Using masterful poetic techniques, Frank reveals that whatever represents our quicksand can easily be tolerated and overcome. All we must do is learn to waltz through it with as much dignity, grace, and class as we can: “And you can bet I’ve thought it over / but I haven’t come up with anything / if you’d like to talk it over / maybe we could see things a little more clearly / and we’ll have a good time.

Want to Have A Good Time?
Try Waltzing Through Quicksand
With Frank Critelli.

Waltzing Through Quicksand by Frank Critelli
is available now for: $9.98 + s/h*

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