Pascal Dennis, a songwriter, musician, and novelist, has published his new album “Crazy Angels,” which has a wide range of musical genres and great descriptive writing. With great orchestration, the songs truly take you on a journey. We enter a new realm with music, where a variety of stunning expressive performances are woven together to represent a same emotion. Despite the fact that there are 16 tracks, you will not be exhausted after listening to the album for an hour. The ears are still fresh and may easily be used for a second round. The tunes are also well-ordered, which helps to maintain a sense of freshness. One aspect of the album that I really liked was Pascal Dennis’ attention to detail in each song, whether it was in the composition, the arrangements, or the mix. Each piece seemed to be handcrafted with a lot of love and care.
There are cheerful songs, love ballads, and even some wailing, but they all have their own individual characteristics. We can listen to a variety of genres such as blues, jazz, modern indie folk, and vintage pop rock. However, each song, even if from the same genre, has a distinct sound, and their approach to the arrangements is refreshingly unique. There are certain tunes that are long, but you don’t realise it unless you keep track of the time. Otherwise, they just go along without a hitch. Even the performance of a certain instrument differed from one song to the next. The soundscapes mostly consisted of the piano, double bass, classical guitars, saxophone, brass ensemble, and string ensemble. We may infer from the phrases alone that the Soundtrack is full of musical diversity and richness.
Every composition sets out on a journey. He opted to imaginatively include you in the scenario, building the mood, giving you some thoughts about the world, and then he skilfully elaborates on the subject. As a result, the songwriting gradually unfolds, keeping us engaged and piqued attention as the song progresses. The chorus portions aren’t completely isolated from the rest of the song. The sections are given similar weight in comparison to the verses. Every phrase leads to a visual depiction of the individual or the scenario in which the character finds themselves. The songs may be gloomy, but as listeners, you will undoubtedly delight themselves while listening to and envisioning the world of Pascal Dennis’ creations. The phrases themselves are not difficult to comprehend. They’re all so related that it’s hard to tell them apart.
To expound on the arrangements, the songs have some truly delightful surprises, such as modulations in jazz compositions such as Ashes of Love, Summerside, and The Day You Went Away, which contain some genuinely astonishing twists. We’ll also hear some wonderful orchestrations that will make you feel vulnerable emotionally. To hear some incredibly dramatic string arrangements, listen to Only the Spotlight Remains (Seattle in Moonlight), Summer Never Ends, and Katie’s Smile. If you appreciate the iconic sound of 1980s pop music, you’ll like hearing this in pieces like Come to Your Window Sarah, Once Upon a Faraway Time. Pascal Dennis also dazzles us with several blues and country music songs, which he uses in a variety of contexts. Some are upbeat, while others are based on a compelling tale. Emotions can be found in Tumbleweed Hotel, Jack Kerouac’s Blues (Blood & Rain).
Listening to Pascal Dennis’ new album was a fantastic experience for me. The composition is fine-tuned to perfection, and the intelligent and competent arrangement ideas take the songwriting even further. I’m hoping that the album will resonate with a large number of people, and that once it does, it will easily retain your attention for an hour. We got to talk some intriguing insights into the record with Pascal Dennis in addition to my review of my album.
What do you think of the album now that it’s officially released?
“I’m thrilled with Crazy Angels. David Logan and I made a commitment that we would make the best possible music, the way we felt it – no compromise. We were blessed to find some of the finest young musicians in Rome’s music scene, who shared our vision. David, Luca, Davide and Marco all played beautifully and we came together as a group.
I’m thrilled with our band’s ability to interpret a wide variety of genres & styles – 1940’s Jazz (‘The Way Things Have to Be’ and ‘Ashes of Love’); 50’s and 60’s R & B and Folk Rock (‘Jack Kerouac’s Blues’, ‘Summerside’ and), Latin jazz (‘Summer Never Ends’), as well as, orchestral pieces like ‘Only the Spotlight Remains’. Our young fellows are able to make these songs & styles their own.
Davide, our splendid piano/keyboard player told me, “These are the kinds of songs I’m learning at the Academy, but it’s unlike anything being written today.” But he connected with the songs at a deep level and his piano voicings are achingly beautiful. For example, listen to what he does in ‘Ashes of Love’ – a classic Sinatra-style ‘heartbreak song’.”
2. How has the journey been from Track 1 to Track 16? What was it like to write the songs?
“The Crazy Angels album is my coming-of-age story. I poured my heart and soul into these songs, and never expected they would be recorded. I wanted my children to know what it was like growing up a poor migrant boy in the Toronto of the 1960’s and 1970’s. There is no compromise, no fakery – this is what I lived through and how I felt it.
Songs like ‘Crazy Angels’ and ‘Summerside’ are three-part operas about love and the migrant’s dream gone wrong. I wrote what I felt and didn’t care if the song was ten minutes long. Collaborating with David Logan again, after all these years, and bringing these stories to life is a high point in my life.
If the angels take me tomorrow, and ask, ‘What do you have to say for yourself?’, I’ll answer: ‘I helped to raise three wonderful kids, and I wrote Crazy Angels.’“
3. What was your main worry while you were writing, recording, and mixing the songs? What may be the one thing you’ve been paying special attention to?
” My main worry was staying true to our overall vision – and to the wide range of styles we play. I write in the genres and styles I love – big band jazz, Latin jazz, R & B, rock & roll, folk rock, adult contemporary, and orchestral pieces. I pick genres that fit the song.“
Would we be able to pull it off stylistically? Would our young musicians be able to internalize such a variety of retro styles?
” As it happens, Davide, Luca, Marco and David not only internalized these styles – they made them their own. Marco’s wonderful saxophone lines, for example, are informed by, say, Stan Getz and Dexter Gordon, but are fresh and original. Luca’s guitar playing is remarkably tasty – and fits each song. We have lovely lyrical nylon string riffs on our Latin jazz pieces, as well as, nasty snarly blues lines on our R & B tunes.
And David Logan’s production brings everything together. His arrangements and counter-melodies beautifully complement the main themes in each song. Please listen to the string arrangements in ‘Only the Spotlight Remains’, and in the interludes in ‘Summerside’ and Crazy Angels. The arrangements break your heart, which is how I felt these songs. And do please listen to his sly, elegant big band arrangement of ‘The Way Things Have To Be.’ “
4. Tell me about some of your songs’ fascinating backstories.
” David Logan & I made a record together a long time ago, when we were both young and foolish. The record went nowhere and David & I went off separately to seek their respective fortunes.
I launched a management consulting company, raised a family and travelled the world helping companies improve. David went to California and became a big-time music producer in film and TV. But we never forgot our work together or our friendship.
I kept writing songs and poems, usually in hotels and bars around the world, late at night, as a way of recording my experience for my family. Music and song writing were my beloved avocation. I never expected my songs would be produced.
During the 2020 pandemic, I began to write new songs and to polish my older songs. What began as a trickle, has turned into a torrent of music. Encouraged by the quality of the songs, I decided to look up my old friend, who was now living in Rome and teaching composition at the renowned Santa Cecilia Music Academy.
After almost thirty years, David & I began to work together again. Our goal was to create the best possible music, the way we fee; it, and to record my experience for my children and their children. As the Crazy Angels album evolved, we realized it might have broader appeal.
Crazy Angels is the first of four planned albums and tells the story of my childhood in Toronto on Spadina Avenue, and in Greektown, and of my coming of age. My parents were migrants who barely escaped WWII and the terrible Greek Civil War. My father was a dishwasher at Grossman’s Tavern, and my mother, a garment factory worker. Eventually, my folks saved enough to open a small diner, the Imperial Grill, which sustained the family, and where I worked from the age of eight.
‘Aristotle Way’ and ‘Ballad of the Red Sea’ are bookends that summarize all that I’ve learned about how to live your life. The first is set in the ancient port city of Thessalonica, and the latter at Sharm El Shaikh (the Bay of the Sheikh) on the Red Sea. I carried these songs in my heart for a long time and finally made sense of them.
‘Crazy Angels’ is a retelling of the Great Gatsby story. The bridge ‘our fathers and their fathers built’ is the celebrated Prince Edward Viaduct which separates Toronto’s exclusive Rosedale neighborhood and the gritty Danforth Avenue I grew up on. The bridge is a metaphor – like the light at the end of the dock in the Great Gatsby. As a young boy I would look across bridge to the tony streets of Rosedale and to the shining towers of Bay Street.
‘Summerside’ is an epic story of love gone wrong on Toronto’s waterfront area. The setting is the marvelous Sunnyside pavilion and beach, where I spent so much time as a child. ‘Come to Your Window, Sarah’ is a Romeo and Juliet story set among Spadina Avenue immigrants. The song alludes to the intolerance migrants have often faced in Toronto. You can download the lyric sheet and historical background on our website.
‘Once Upon a Faraway Time’, ‘The Day You Went Away’, and ‘Ashes of Love’ are homage to Sinatra, Jobim and Bennett. ‘The Way Things Had To Be’ is homage to the Big Band era. ‘Only the Spotlight Remains’ is homage to Seattle’s lost ‘underground’ city. ‘San Francisco Bay’, ‘Cry Cry Cry’, and ‘Jack Kerouac’s Blues’ are urban bops.
Our next album, Nicaragua Moon, is almost complete, and will be released in the summer of 2022, along with a series of singles and an EP. More info on our website. “
5. Is there anything special from the album you’d like to draw attention to for the listeners?
” David Logan’s remarkable arrangements, instrumentation and ear for melody – check out ‘Ballad of the Red Sea’, and ‘Summerside’
Davide Sambrotta’s lyrical piano on ‘Ashes of Love’, haunting organ on ‘Jack Kerouac’s Blues and Black Cat Blues (our latest single)
Luca Camerota’s tasty guitar licks across a range of styles – ‘Once Upon a Faraway Time’, ‘Summer Never Ends’, ‘Aristotle Way’, ‘Ballad of the Red Sea’
Marco Bonelli’s saxophone on ‘Summer Never Ends’, ‘Once Upon a Faraway Time’, ‘The Day You Went Away’
It’s an honor to play with such gifted young musicians. Gracie, amici “
6. Are you nervous and thrilled to see how the fans respond to the songs? Which tune do you think will be a popular choice among many?
“It’s an honor to have engaged, thoughtful listeners. I‘m pleased that people are responding to ‘retro’ songs like ‘Summer Never Ends’, ‘Black Cat Blues’ and ‘Crazy Angels’. I’m hopeful that our band will continue to be able make music the way we feel it. “
Enjoy Listening to “Crazy Angels” by Pascal Dennis on Spotify!