Gina Sicilia review May 1, 2013…

GINA SICILIA

IT WASN’T REAL

VIZZTONE/SWINGNATION RECORDS  SNCD  388013

IT WASN’T REAL–DON’T CRY BABY–PLEASE DON’T STOP–WAKE UP NEXT TO YOU–WALKIN’ ALONG THE AVENUE–CITY BY THE WATER–WRITE A LITTLE SONG WITH YOU–DON’T WANNA BE NO MOTHER–OH ME OH MY–WALKIN’ SHOES

 

Philadelphia native Gina Sicilia broke onto the national scene with her 2007 debut, “Allow Me To Confess.”  Since that time, she has recorded a total of three albums, all produced by her bandleader, guitarist Dave Gross, and all showcase her soulful, sometimes-sultry-but-always-powerful vocals, which cover soul, R & B, rock, and roots, as well as the blues.  She got her love for all types of music from her parents, and took to the stage for the first time in 2005 at Philly’s famous blues and jazz club, Warmdaddy’s, where she met Dave Gross.

For her latest album for the Vizztone/SwingNation imprint, entitled “It Wasn’t Real,” she wrote nine of the ten cuts, all dealing with the highs and lows of life, love, relationships, and responsibilities.  It also marks her debut with Grammy-winning producer Glenn Barratt, who pushed her out of the friendly confines of working with Gross, urging her to explore varied musical boundaries, and take better advantage of her flexible vocal range.   She’s also backed by a fine group of local musicians very familiar with her choice of material and her abilities, making this an impressive showcase, indeed.

 

She gets down to brass tacks on the set’s only cover, a bluesy take of Etta James’ “Don’t Cry Baby.”  She asks a lover to help her beat her own lonely blues by “going home with me,” in “Wake Up Next To You.”  In “City By The Water,” she paints a wistful picture of reminiscing over an old flame, revisiting every place “Where We Used To Kiss.”

 

There were two highlights for us, too.  Gina loses a lover and finds another in the same night while “Walkin’ Along The Avenue.”  This one features Dennis Gruenling on harp and is done in a jazzy, torch-song mode.  And, a woman trapped in a loveless marriage ponders what might have been in the poignant and powerful “Don’t Wanna Be No Mother.”  This one is perhaps the album’s centerpiece, and, were it ever put in the hands of the boys down on Music Row, they’d tweak the arrangement a little, and it’d be one damn good country song!

Gina Sicilia shows her maturity and evolution as a writer with the outstanding songs on “It Wasn’t Real.”  This one is her best and most diverse set to date!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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