Petrella – Songs of Many Colors LP
Petrella opens her latest album Songs of Many Colors with the track “Bring It Here, Baby”. There are some supporting vocals buttressing Petrella’s own, but attentive listeners will know her voice can carry the track after one or two lines. There’s, without question, a country music flavor pervading the performance, but owes much more to modern pop than it does to classic Nashville. The song urges listeners to set their burdens aside for a time and Petrella’s commanding performance is appropriately inspiring.
“Be Bop Hoedown” taps far deeper into country roots than the opener. The raw-boned twang of the song’s electric guitar grounds the track south of the Mason/Dixon Line and fills it with Southern Rock echoes. Petrella, once again, opts for scattered backing vocals reinforcing her confident and strident phrasing. Backup singers, however, are crucial for the success of “Walking Backwards”. They create an effervescent dialogue with Petrella’s voice. This is a far more understated and artful number than the earlier duo but Petrella understands how to dial up its atmospherics without ever pushing too far.
“Lovin’ and Chasin’ the Blues” is a live recording and another excellent example of Petrella’s skillful manner of smoothing out the style’s rough edges without ever sacrificing its authenticity. The backing singers are near omnipresent throughout this cut while never threatening to obscure Petrella’s lead vocal. She returns to straight-forward country hewing closer to genre fundamentals with the track “Cart Before the Horse”. It has an unrelenting path from the outset and maintains a brisk clip and, thus, demands a more physical performance from Petrella. She responds with ease.
She can claim rare achievements to her credit. The song “Hallelujah for Peace” mixes a light touch of country with mainstream pop and a gospel vocal arrangement. Its choral vocals are an especially potent touch that helps send this track over the top. You cannot help but applaud the deft way she blends time-tested gospel elements with a thoroughly vibrant contemporary sound. “Waltz for Love” is a knowing nod to the genre’s past. The waltz tempo is a classic standard from country music that her voice excels with and the generous violin-driven lyricism is a highlight.
The second to last track “Try Something New” begins as a bluegrass rave-up before the song settles into a fleet-footed shuffle. It’s yet another example of how seamlessly Petrella’s voice meshes with the music; she measures her energy in a way matching the musical arrangement step for step and brings emphasis to bear in all the right places. The finale “Pray” is another track where her gospel inclinations come to the fore without chaining herself to the past. She makes effective use of a choir once again and the overall presentation generates sparks from beginning to end.
Songs of Many Colors consolidates Petrella’s lifetime of professional accomplishments with a release that showcases her greatest talents. It’s not an album of its time alone but an album for all time as it delves deep into timeless human emotions and features a powerhouse performance from Petrella. It’s well worth seeking out.