Music Review: Jim Fusco’s “Halfway There”

Originally posted 2009-04-13 23:55:34. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

RATING:  4.5 / 5 stars

By Chris Moore:

When Jim Fusco released What About Today? in May 2005, his official website claimed that “this album will prove to be Jim’s best work to date.”  I didn’t think about it much at the time, but that tag of “to date” is key, particularly now — four years later — as he releases a new album.

Now, his website asserts that Halfway There is “his most professional and mature album to date.”

There is certainly something very appropriate about the title of this new release.  Careful listeners will certainly appreciate the conceptual and thematic connections.  In most places on the record, Fusco seems upbeat and generally optimistic, and yet there is a clear feeling of being stuck in a transition phase.  “You go on for miles then you stop,” he sings in “On For Miles,” possibly referring to his fiancee (now only months away from their wedding).  On “Exception,” he sings, “Why can’t we be an exception to the rule?”

Fusco is even more blunt on “I Got You,” as he wails, “I’ll always have you here and shouldn’t that be enough?”

Halfway There is truly unmatched — as promised — in Fusco’s catalog in terms of not only sound quality and “professionalism,” but also lyrical content and overall effect.  This is an album that should draw listeners in and make them feel something.  From the opening track, this is apparent, as much from the snarl of the verse as from the fed-up indifference of the chorus.  The guitar solo is emotive and supported with a classic Jim Fusco — no, better — bass riff.

Go on: I dare you not to get it stuck in your head.

The Best Indie Album of 2009!

The Best Indie Album of 2009!

“Go Back to Him” sets the tone for an album that does what great albums are supposed to do, leading you from highs to lows as you wind your way through its eleven tracks. Perhaps due to his experience with the recording process (and life in general) or an array of new equipment and instruments, Fusco’s vocals are warmer, his guitar effects are more unique and authentic, and the overall sound quality is higher.  The volume level is impressive — sometimes to0 much so, as I’ve had to turn down a couple tracks during pronounced, high-pitched guitar parts.

Indeed, longtime Jim Fusco fans will find traces of sounds here and there that are reminiscent of past work, but this time around there is sense of evolution and a clear progression.  “Our Love Doesn’t Translate” should clearly be the single, as catchy and pretty as it is, weaving a tale of two lovers who don’t always understand each other or see eye to eye.  “A Night Away” is the distortion-drenched track for this album, showcasing just one of many energetic guitar solos and — although he sings “I’d rather be ashamed than proud and angry” — some considerable resentment.

The standout track of the album is “I Got You.”  It is placed perfectly on the album, just past the halfway point.  It begins as a quiet song, just an electric guitar, then a bass, and finally a lead vocal.  When the drums shake and roll into place about a minute in, the song picks up speed and continues its slow assault until just over a minute and a half in when Fusco belts out the first chorus.  The lyrics are my favorite on the album; indeed, this would be the first song I would discuss with him if I were to sit down for an interview.

The album closer, “Ruins,” makes a final and interesting statement on the overall theme of the album.  Using the metaphor of ancient historic ruins for a relationship, Fusco sings, “There was a time when everyone had admired you from afar… But nature has a way of tearing apart what we’ve built, and if it stands, it’s eroded away.”  He leads up to the conclusion in the chorus, “I guess that’s what you call progress.”  The song itself is a dark, haunting number, and you won’t find a better mix anywhere on the album.

As “Ruins” fades, you are left with a momentary silence before a quiet hum fills the speakers.  Almost a minute later, a guitar fades in to the pop powerhouse that is “Winning You Over.”  Not officially included on the album, all I can say is that this song fits firmly into the company of such songs as America’s “Here and Now” and the Wallflowers “Empire In My Mind” — all quality tracks that make you wonder, “Why not include this on the album proper?”

Fusco has said the song was recorded much later than the other songs and didn’t really fit into the album as a whole, which does make sense.

Halfway There is easily his best, most accessible and enjoyable album to date — it is clearly a prime time for Fusco to attract new listeners while impressing his current fanbase.

In his review of Jeff Copperthite’s 2008 album Greenlight, Fusco wrote, “As an independent artist, I’ve found that people don’t take our music seriously. They won’t listen to it in the car like every other album they own. They won’t recommend it to their friends and write online reviews. It just doesn’t happen very often.”  Halfway There is an infectious record.  I’ve already listened to it a half dozen times in the car alone, not counting just as many iPod listens, and I don’t see a time coming when I will want to take it out.  (Well, maybe when the Dylan album is released later this month… :-))

Oddly — perhaps sadly — this level of mastery comes at a time when Fusco, for the first time, has eschewed all the frills, including music videos, enhancedCD content, and even his own original design for the album cover.

Fusco at work in the Meriden, CT-based FMP Studios

Fusco at work in the Meriden, CT-based FMP Studios

This is yet another visible sign of advancement — he brought in talented and accomplished painter Ben Quesnel to design and create an original work that would be used for the cover.  If you watch Fusco’s Laptop Session for “Our Love Doesn’t Translate,” you can see the painting in all its glory.

The album isn’t perfect, though.  The fourth track, “Write it All,” is both a writing collaboration and a rare duet — his first since My Other Half.  Fair warning: that second voice is disconcerting and may lead listeners to frisbee-toss their discs out the windows of moving cars.  (Actually, that second voice is me!)  In all seriousness, “Write it All” is perhaps my favorite collaboration I’ve ever written and performed — and there have been many — with Jim, and I think fans of MoU will especially appreciate this track.

Another notable collaboration showcased for the first time on this album is with longtime friend Alberto Distefano.  “Go Back to Him,” “Our Love Doesn’t Translate,” and “Ruins” were written while on vacation in Italy, and the influence of a new environment with a rich history and unique language is apparent in the writing.  His previous album may have been “purely Jim Fusco from top to bottom,” but the injection of a second perspective seems to have sparked new and different ideas and perhaps even a new era for this already established, accomplished songwriter.

If you’ve made it this far in reading my review, there really isn’t much more that can be communicated in words.  The bass is bassier.  The guitars are crisper, more jangly.  The vocals are as ambitious as ever.  Truly, this is an album that deserves your attention —  it’s only the second great album of 2009, in league with Bruce Springsteen’s Working On A Dream.

Click HERE to listen to the album for free!

Trust me, you’ll be glad you tuned in.

“Bethlehem” by Jim Fusco – FREE mp3 Download! – Day 9 of 14

Originally posted 2015-12-14 22:09:40. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

It’s Day 9 here on the 14 Days of Rock’n’Roll Christmas 2015 on the Laptop Sessions music blog!  Tonight, I bring you a song that you probably haven’t heard of before. But, that’s okay- as George Carlin said, “When are gonna write some more Christmas songs?”

Today’s song is “Bethlehem”, originally done by the band Chicago.  They actually came out with three Christmas albums!  I guess they really got into putting that “Chicago sound” onto the holiday classics.  But, there were a couple of originals and “Bethlehem” is a really cool tune.  It has an interesting beat and some difficult chord changes.  The chords themselves are easy ones, but they change very quickly.

The overall sound was a difficult one to get down.  My version doesn’t sound exactly like the original, but then again, you haven’t heard the original, so who’s to call me on it? :-)

I hope you like this song- give it a chance!  It’s free to download, so it’s not taking much of a chance.  I’ll see you tomorrow for Day 10!

“How Are You Feeling Tonight?” (Original song by Jim Fusco) – The Open Mic Sessions

Originally posted 2013-10-30 06:00:28. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Hello everyone and welcome to another new edition of the Open Mic Sessions!  That’s the web video series where I showcase some performances from various Open Mic Nights throughout my travels in Connecticut (so far- that radius may increase!).  I’m excited to bring you more original songs in my quest to play a different original song every time I go out there!  At the pace I’m going, it’ll take me quite a while to cover all of my material.

Today, I bring you “How Are You Feeling Tonight?”, which is the last track off of my 2012 album, “Those Around Us”.  This is a favorite of fellow Laptop Sessions songwriter Jeff Copperthite, as are most of my “album-ending” songs.  I’ve always been critical of songs that various bands choose to end their albums.  They tend to choose songs that are slow and introspective.  I think “How Are You Feeling Tonight?” is also slow and introspective, but this song (the recorded version) has a good beat, too.  It’s also got some biting electric guitar- some of my favorite guitar sounds I’ve done so far.  I always want to send the listener off after listening an album with the want to play the disc over again.  So, I try to put a catchy song at the end that will sound good juxtaposed with Track 1.

The original version of this song also contains block harmonies throughout the song.  That’s kind of rare with me, which is odd considering how much I love harmony vocals.  I can only really think of a couple other songs I’ve done that have harmony vocals throughout, namely “Never Outweigh the Chances” from my 2002 album, “My Other Half”. And that song was done like that on suggestion from my brother Mike, so it wasn’t even my own idea!  I’m glad he made the suggestion, though, as I love the way that came out.

I thought this would be a good song to do solo acoustically in a live, open-mic setting.  I wrote the song with an acoustic guitar handy, though I came up with the “How are you feeling tonight?” line while doing something else- probably just singing to myself in the shower or something.  I liked the idea of that- many of us ask questions of those we care about, even though we already know the answer.  Do we ask because we’re trying to confirm our suspicions?  Are we asking to coax an answer out and possibly start a dialogue?  Or, do we ask just out of concern?  These are the types of questions I tried to explore during the writing of “Those Around Us”.

The funny thing is that I didn’t ask these questions consciously throughout the writing process for the album.  After all of the songs were written, I realized the theme of the lyrics I was writing- analyzing the relationships between me and the people around me that I cared about…or used to, for that matter.  I think someday I’ll look back on “Those Around Us” and will be thankful I delved-into that kind of thinking.  I think it helped me understand the relationships I had (have) and the ones I wanted.

I hope you enjoy my open mic session of “How Are You Feeling Tonight?”, another original song here on the Laptop Sessions acoustic music video blog!



“Our Love Doesn’t Translate” (Jim Fusco Original Song)

Originally posted 2009-04-07 21:24:04. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Hello everyone- I know you were expecting a great acoustic cover song music video tonight, but instead, to commemorate my brand new album, “Halfway There”, I decided to record track two off of the album, “Our Love Doesn’t Translate”.

“Halfway There”, available at http://fusco-moore.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_music_info&cPath=7_8&products_id=78, is an album I’m very proud of- I’m sure you’ll love it, and to prove it, you can hear the entire album online before you buy!

If I weren’t so tired tonight, I would tell you SO much about this song and this album.  My friend Alberto and I wrote this song while in Italy- we were so proud of it and we both knew we had a great song on our hands.  We were so excited to record this song when we got back- I finished it within a couple of weeks.  That was almost two full years ago- I’m so glad this album is finally finished and released!

Listen to the words of this song- they tell the whole story of a lost love and not being able to “connect” with that person.  It’s an exaggerated metaphor for this theory and I think you’ll get what we were talking about.

Okay- it’s been an incredibly long day and I need to gear up for another.  We had a great time tonight with a new friend from California- what a great way to kick-off the album release!