Success is always a combination of luck and talent.
And, as she declares on the title song of her four-song debut CD, Nippertown’s Emma Torncello is indeed a lucky gal, but truth be told, her luck pales in comparison with the powerhouse talent that she unleashes on this stellar EP.
Classically trained in both piano and voice, Torncello turns her attention to the blues here – undoubtedly pointed in that direction by Nippertown blues-rock vet Tony Perrino, who she’s been studying with for the past couple of years – serving up soulful renditions of Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billie Joe” and Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love,” and well as a pair of rock-solid original tunes – which actually outshine the covers.
Co-producers Perrino (who contributes drums, organ, keyboards, rhythm guitar and backing vocals) and bassist Larry DeVivo (who also handled the engineering, mixing and mastering at his Silvertone Mastering studio in Saratoga Springs) gathered an ace crew of musicians to bring out the best from Torncello, including guitarists Chuck D’Aloia, Tom Murphy and Jared Alpren, as well as percussionist David Macejka (who can also be heard on C.J. Chenier’s currently Grammy-nominated album).
But make no mistake, Torncello is front and center on this disc, and none of the players are in danger of upstaging her. The title track simmers with a distinctly Allman Brothers-like groove, fueled by some in-the-pocket slide guitar work that sky-soars over the thick Hammond B3 hum. On “Lonely Soul” – co-written with Perrino – she wails with a world-weary, heartbroken set of vocal cords that seem to have been passed down from Bonnie Raitt and Susan Tedeschi.
If there’s a complaint, it’s simply that all four songs seem to be set in a similar mid-tempo-bordering-on-ballad groove. It would have been nice to hear Torncello crank up the BPM and see what she could do with a full-force blues-rockin’ rave-up. On this disc she owns smoldering, but I’ll bet she can boil over, too.
On the other hand, she’s got plenty of time for that later.
By the way, did I mention that Emma Torncello is just a 17-year-old senior at Shaker High School?
Yeah, she’s got time…
Emma Torncello and her all-star band led by Tony Perrino step into the spotlight at The Linda in Albany on Saturday as the headliners for the latest installment of Ralph Renna’s Capital Underground Live concert series. Sly Fox & the Hustlers and Breaking News are in the support slots. The show kicks off at 7:30pm. Tix are $10 in advance; $12 at the door.