Lenny Solomon,
Armando's Pie
(Not Life Threatening, 2004)

Lenny Solomon is one of the many gifted singer-songwriters currently on the scene. His music has a delicately honed urgency that often reminds me of early Bob Dylan. On the opening track on Armando's Pie, "Five More Minutes," the similarity is marked -- and I mean that as a compliment to Lenny.

He writes and sings on matters that will touch the lives of most people at some time. But he also adds that magic ingredient called humour to some of the tracks. He seems to realise that we all love lyrics with meaning but we do not want to be submerged in causes and earnest pleas.

The title track appears to be about pizza, but he gives us the tale of the immigrant opening his store with a light touch and holds your attention. If a real Armando ever opens a pizza store, he has a ready-made advertisement here. From the newcomer he switches to the long-time resident and brings us south with a smell of magnolia as we meet and hear the tale of "Margaret."

The songs are varied and the subjects are wide-ranging. Guess what is being examined with lines like, "He loves to go shopping in his SUV and a fridge as big as Venus, a stove as big as Mars." The track is "Global Warming Blues."

One of my favourite tracks is a great country-sounding piece called "He's a Cowboy." This brings the rider of the range up to the 21st century but with a sense of respect mingled with the humour. Solomon stays in a humourous country vein on the beautifully titled "Jews in Country Music." This song reminds me of the best of Shel Silverstein with tongue firmly in cheek as he is "looking for a country Lenny Bernstein."

My love of the story-song and history pointed me directly to "Gettysburg," and there I found my top track. Here is a song that brings the horror of war on a one to one basis home to the listener.

The 14 tracks on this CD are all excellent and diverse enough to ensure that any listener will find a few that could become favourites. Solomon has the wisdom of that other person of that name. He gives us songs to make us think but never lets the message get in the way of the fact that to transmit any message, the medium must grab and hold our attention.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 31 July 2004

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