‘Got No Wings’ is a solo debut from Sam Astorino, but he has a long history of working with bands in Saint John. The seven track album is a first solo effort by the artist, who you may know from The Torinos. Astorino even revisits them with a stripped down acoustic version of ‘Don’t Knock It’.
The first track, ‘Too Busy Lovin” is self described crunchy blues. It’s fun to listen to, though the blues scales wedged in towards the end of the track seem like a bit of an afterthought. The warmth of the vocals on the following track, ‘0-60’ draw the listener back in. We slide on through to ‘Don’t Knock It’, which brings us back full force with a tasty arrangement that is definitely a stand out. ‘Jazz in the Ab’ puts one to mind of Stan Getz with some pretty guitar layered over bass for a short but sweet listen.
‘Human After All’ takes us a little deeper. Astorino says that wrote this track while living in a cabin in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley while late Summer turned to early Fall. There is a nakedness to the song that recalls the rustic conditions of that time – particularly the cabin’s lack of running water or electricity.
Astorino says the album came about because he was tired of writing songs about feelings for past lovers and ex-girlfriends. Instead he wanted to write about his love for water, and fire, and the things that were keeping me alive at the time.
With lyrics like ‘Water face to face with the stinging sea/wider opened up right in front of me/water, fire burn your face/ on the candles gleam hotter/boil off right in front of me fire’, the raw vulnerability to the album cannot be denied.
He goes for it, vocally, which almost feels a bit like an early Elvis Costello song. Even with the subtle reggae flavor in the song, that same Elvis Costello vibe continues with the title track ‘Got No Wings’. I quite like the harshness of the lyric smashed against the sweet guitar sound.
In the end, we are left with ‘Lovely Bunch’. Lots of fun and standout listen. Would love to hear a live version of this in a pub with lots of friends and pints thrown back. All in all, ‘Got No Wings’ goes down quite nicely and more or less sums up where the artist is coming from musically. Lots of great stuff here, definitely worth it to keep your ear out for more of Sam Astorino in years to come.
(Photograph: Kelsey Cassidy)