Live Review: Lori Diamond & Fred Abatelli at Second Friday Sessions

Lori Diamond & Fred Abatelli with Kim Jennings

photo by Geoff Wilbur

Lori Diamond & Fred Abatelli

Second Friday Sessions, Unitarian Church of Marlborough and Hudson, Hudson, MA

December 8, 2017

You’ve read about Lori Diamond and Fred Abatelli here before – a live review and an album review. So I’ll keep this live review brief, since I’ve gone into great detail in the previous two reviews. Plus, I was out enjoying myself, so I barely took any notes beyond jotting down song titles.

The event was Second Friday Sessions, a monthly open mic night – built around a talented, well-known “featured performer” each month – at the local unitarian church. On this night, Lori and Fred were the featured performers.

Lori Diamond & Fred Abatelli with Kim Jennings

photo by Geoff Wilbur

I arrived about an hour into the evening and caught the last couple songs of a band full of young musicians, Paradox, gaining some valuable on-stage experience. Next up were Lori and Fred, who were joined on stage by another well-known local musician, Kim Jennings. This was a real treat for me, since I hadn’t gotten out to hear Kim before. Though, vocally, she was limited to background harmony duty, what a crisp, clear, great voice she has!

Of course, I knew what to expect from Lori and Fred. Lori has a rich, warm powerful voice that’s also hits impressive high notes. Fred’s vocals, as well, are strong, and his guitar-playing is really something special. In fact, I’ve commented that Fred does things on his acoustic guitar you usually only hear attempted on electric guitars. And for good reason. Fred’s exceptional, understated talent – so obvious if you’re really paying attention – allows his wizardry to bring a liveliness and attention to detail to the duo’s adult contemporary repertoire that’s rarely heard in this musical subgenre, especially true outside the nationally-famous few.

The eight-song set opened with “Good Harbor,” a crowd favorite that evokes emotion. Then “The Outside,” the first to feature some of Fred’s special guitar-playing.

Lori Diamond & Fred Abatelli with Kim Jennings

photo by Geoff Wilbur

On the first two songs, Lori sang lead, but “All Comes Round” was sung more as a duet. It was followed by a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “River.”

Lori and Fred unveiled a brand new original, “The Good in You,” a song with a fun, light positive energy. It showcased a head-turning intricate guitar run by Fred and kind of an “Outside”-ish vocal vibe in some of Lori’s soaring vocals. This one’s a keeper!

Next came “True,” a song with soaring vocals that strikes me as very piano ballady even in spite of the guitar parts. And the duo’s very cool rendition of “Wayfaring Stranger,” a song that appears on Lori & Fred’s album Lifted, performed in such an original arrangement they really make it their won.

The evening closed with “Lifted,” a song featuring Fred’s vocals in the lead, supported by keyboards and allowing a chance to really showcase stunning backing vocal harmonies from Lori and Kim.

I’m glad I was able to get out to this show. It’s always fun see Lori and Fred perform. The music’s so mellow but performed with such energy; it’s always an evening you’ll walk away from smiling and glad you came.

Looking Ahead

I don’t see the next Second Friday Session listed, but keep an eye out for it, presumably around the second Friday of each month.

A house concert tonight, Saturday, is Lori & Fred’s last currently-scheduled performance of 2017, but they already have several shows scheduled for 2018. On January 13th, they’ll be at the Original Congregational Church in Wrentham, MA. On March 25th, they’re scheduled to perform at the Amazing Things Arts Center in Framingham, MA. On June 9th, they’ll be performing at the Newton Festival of the Arts in Newton, MA. And on July 21st,  they’ll be at the Shrewsbury Public Library in Shrewsbury, MA. See the “Tour” page of their website for details. And check back as they add more dates.

Album Review: Fernando Perdomo – The Golden Hour

Album Review of Fernando Perdomo: The Golden Hour

Fernando Perdomo is a modern manifestation of a ’70s/’80s soft rock reimagination of Tom Jones, crooning love songs with warm, fully orchestrated rock ‘n roll sound beds. Musically, he’s a ’70s/’80s slow rocker, someone whose music suggests influences from Moody Blues to John Lennon, his rolling soft rock numbers offering hints of the more piano-heavy numbers from the repertoires of Kansas or Styx.

The Golden Hour kicks off with “Sunset (Intro),” a piano intro that leads into a rich, lush, slow, Moody Blues-esque crooner, “Sleep.”

Fernando then picks up the tempo with “Spotlight Smile,” a familiarly comfortable, totally laid-back yet energetic ’70s guitar pop-rock-ish number, something well-suited to a concert on the beach. Perhaps the beach shown on the album cover.

Fernando Perdomo - The Golden Hour

image courtesy of ACR Management

Indeed, beaches, palm trees, and sunsets seem to be the perfect backdrop for most of The Golden Hour‘s songs. The next track, “Look At the Moon,” deploys some mild guitar hooks a bit reminiscent of Cheap Trick. Mellow Cheap Trick.

“Here With Me” is a nice ballad, its guitar hinting at a Hawaiian twang. “Sunset,” meanwhile, opens with a guitar sound and vocal intro relatively akin to Pink Floyd. The mellowest Pink Floyd you’ve ever heard.

“Love Loss Repeat” is one of my favorite songs on the album, lyrically a clever thought, with standard mid-tempo drumming, mellowly powerful melodic rises and falls, and interesting supplemental harmonies. Perhaps my very favorite is “I Feel (Therefore I Am),” with an interesting, classic guitar line, mid-tempo rock with a bit of an ’80s distorted axe flair.

A couple more songs are standouts, as well. “When You’re Here With Me” is a close-your-eyes, turn-out-the-lights slow rock swayer, suitable for an arena full of lighters held high, with a late-song guitar solo driving home that classic arena rock lineage. And album-ender “Gold,” even though it protests “I’m tired of sleeping/It’s time to live” sways and jangles almost as if it wants to put the listener to sleep. As such, it’s a great closing number, gently lifting the covers up on this engaging 13-song soft, classic, ’70s-era, lushly produced pop-rock album and putting it to bed.

Excellent musicianship, tight songwriting, and warm, precise production combine to deliver The Golden Hour, a disc that clearly showcases Fernando’s talent from the first listen and whose songs’ initially apparent strengths grow on you with repeated listens, as you start to notice the precision and interesting details.

Kansas, Cheap Trick, Moody Blues… Fernando Perdomo is a soft pop-rock version of a lot of my favorite old rock bands. And that’s pretty cool for whenever I want to hear good music with rich, lush, full production, but don’t want it too loud. Per Fernando’s website, The LA Weekly says he’s “The millennial answer to Todd Rundgren.” Yeah. I wish I had thought of that.

Looking Ahead

I don’t see any upcoming shows listed on the Events tab of Fernando’s Facebook page, but be sure to check back regularly to see, particularly if you’re in southern California, since he’s based in Los Angeles.