These Are The Days
Usually, albums such as singer/songwriter Barry Russo’s debut, These Are The Days, are lost in a sea of decidedly flashier records. It’s unfortunate that an industry that’s supposed to reward musical talent would rather support something more fashionable than an ear-pleasing mainstream pop/rock album. Actually, in an odd twist, These Are The Days is labeled as “Adult Album Alternative” in today’s market, even though the songs on it would fit on American Top-40 or AOR stations during the ’80s. And Russo seems to have realized that as well, pronouncing his love for the Rubik’s Cube years on “Child of the ’80s,” a charming and unabashedly affectionate homage to the decade. With a futuristic delivery, so robotic that it makes Gary Numan’s Cylon crooning sound as warm as Firestar from Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends, Russo lists what he misses about the ’80s, a comprehensive shopping cart of Reagan-era nostalgia that includes Bananarama, Romancing the Stone and The Cosby Show. The arrangements take on retro sounds of cheesy synthesizers and spandex metal riffs with accuracy. It’s hysterically funny and drop-dead cute, especially the less-than-subtle nod to Van Halen’s “Jump.”
Aside from “Child of the ’80s,” These Are The Days consists of fairly contemporary, upbeat and mature compositions that are polished with a coat of studio sheen suitable for commercial radio. Of these, the soaring “Are You Listening” and the piano-laced “Walk Away” have the most widespread appeal. The best tracks are compiled up front, as Russo knocks one out of the ballpark after another. Although, except for “Child of the ’80s,” it does take repeated spins for them to penetrate the skin. Nevertheless, Russo does save the best for the near last: the moving “I’ll Always Remember,” a touching ballad for his father.
Barry Russo: www.barryrusso.com