Dealing with several starts and stops before being recorded, produced and mixed at Chase Park Transduction in Athens, Georgia by artist/producer David Barbe, this latest release by the band has not been without obstacles. Even this past Saturday’s CD release show was dealt a bit of last-minute drama when CD’s were held up by snow, arriving the day of the show.
As a CD, “When the Stars Fall” is everything fans of the Shaun Piazza Band expect and a a whole lot more. Sure the mellow flowing tunes are there but this time out there are moments of uptempo pleasure that arrive just in time shake things up. In a recent Pop Rocks article for the Augusta Chronicle, entertainment writer Steven Uhles wrote “The record falters in its sequencing.” to which I personally would have to disagree. Perhaps some of the more “uptempo” tunes could have been spread out more but after a few listens I have to say that an “uptempo” Shaun Piazza song is not really too far removed from what Uhles refers to as a “mid-tempo tune” just maybe a bit more of an energetic. “When the Stars Fall” flows pretty well picking up the energy just enough to break up the monotony but not so much to put off faithful Shaun Piazza fans.
If there’s one thing that most listeners seem to agree on with this latest disc is that “When the Stars Fall” proves why “Band” follows Shaun Piazza’s name more than in previous releases. While earlier work could have merely been labeled ”Shaun Piazza and the…” or simply “Shaun Piazza”, the collaborative effort on “When the Stars Fall” clearly shines through. Sure his name is in the bands’ moniker but it’s evident now the value of each and every member of the group when it comes to the songs.
Speaking of songs, “When the Stars Fall” is chock full of some tasty tunes in particular jangly rocker Scarlett, which is a unique twist on a love song, and beautiful Americana style ballad Pale Moon Light, which would appeal to fans of modern country as well as classic 70′s country rock acts like the Eagles. Fans of good fun sing-a-long tunes will definitely enjoy See the Light, a tune which got a great reaction from those in attendance at Sky City when Piazza sang “We got friends who drink all day…”
Speaking of the Sky City show, this was a different type a show than I have been used to as of late. Not sure whether it’s just me not getting out as much as in my early days or being more used to the wild genre mixups that have been taking place on Augusta stages recently, but this show was very much like experiencing an Ivy League frat party where everyone knows each other, including the bands. Now this is not a bad thing and my first exposure to opening bands Bayou Bleu and The Favors left my foot tapping for the most part, but as the night wore on I found myself on the edge of boredom. The good part here is that no one band really overstayed their welcome on stage and just when I was beginning to feel as if I had my fill of one act, another one jumped on the stage…the one exception being the Shaun Piazza Band who in the past seemed very monotone to me but as of late has turned me into a fan. That’s not saying that I couldn’t be a fan of either or both of the opening bands because they were both fun to groove to and uniquely different in their own right, I just don’t think my foot would be interested anymore after about 40 minutes. That being said, I would go see both Bayou Bleu and the Favors again.
In contrast to previous sets I have seen by the Shaun Piazza Band, Saturday night’s set was much looser and saw the band noticeably having fun on stage. Not saying that the guys don’t normally enjoy playing out just that there seemed to be more of a fun cameraderie between the band on stage than usual. Songs past and present were presented beautifully and intertwined with a playful stage banter that connected each tune perfectly. If I were to have one drawback on the Shaun Piazza Band’s set it would be that it could have concluded with a bit of a bigger bang. Not a big enough drawback to dismiss a great set by an incredible band.
So there it is…after a long long wait the Shaun Piazza Band has FINALLY released their long-awaited new CD and the release party is now history. I’m sure there will be plenty of debate on whether the wait was worth it because in any musical circle such debates always occur. I for one believe that this is easily the best release the group has put out and if the wait had anything to do with it, it was worth it.
My only question is – after all the talk about it being a group, why was the word “band” left off of the CD. Not a dig…just curious.