Symphony in 16 Bars
First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2004, Volume 11, #11
Written by T.J. Simon
Kenny White’s innate knack for writing catchy tunes that go down easy arises from his previous career as a commercial jingle writer in the Manhattan advertising world. On Symphony in 16 Bars, his second full-length release, he has produced another winning collection of piano-based melodic rock in the tradition of Bruce Hornsby and Marc Cohn. Overall, it’s a smooth and gentle suite of songs that washes over the listener without a harsh moment as White sings tale after tale of love and loneliness among urban dwellers. Much like his debut, he is able to incorporate successfully a smattering of jazz elements into his compositions, including the alluring sax of Rick Depafi on Shoot the Moon, and his soulful duet with Amy Helm on Different Today provides another welcome variation from his basic musical formula. Of particular note, however, are two tunes that are simply mind-boggling and brilliant. The first is 5 Girls, a musically sparse and lyrically dense story in which White lusts after a gal with a "cellophane backpack" and a tattoo on the small of her back. It’s a funny, touching, and heartfelt number that segues into his intelligent musings regarding the merits of taking a few risks in life. The other amazing track is the mini-epic Workin’ on a Way, which features a country vibe that drifts beneath a humorous one-sided conversation with a woman. Indeed, these songs are so much better than the rest of the disc that White’s other material tends to pale in comparison. If only he could write an album full of songs just like those, he’d be playing in stadiums.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box