Album Review of
My Original Plan

Label: Southport

Genres: Jazz, Rock, Pop, Caribbean

Styles: Latin Jazz, Contemporary Jazz, Avant-Garde Jazz, Progressive Rock, Adult Contemporary, Reggae

Visit Artist/Band Website
Written by Robert Silverstein
September 6, 2021 - 1:05am EDT
Review Rating Star Review Rating Star Review Rating Star Review Rating Star Review Rating Star

With her mix of upbeat retro-pop, tin-pan alley and theatrical cabaret sounds, Chicago-based singer-songwriter Joanie Pallatto arrives right on time with her 2021 album entitled My Original Plan. After a year and a half filled with plans and lives turned upside down and inside out, Joanie Pallatto comes across like the sonic angel of forgiveness. Sounding like a return to a kinder, gentler time, the 62 minute, 14-track My Original Plan sounds quite inspired by the cool joyful grooves of the mid 1960s, during a time when American pop icons like Nancy Sinatra and Joni Mitchell through to Simon & Garfunkel ruled the airwaves and the folk and jazz clubs. Evoking an array of captivating singer-songwriter imagery, Joanie Pallatto’s music is the real deal. For example, the first track “Open Your Eyes” is a jazz-inflected pop gem, reminding the listeners to focus on good deeds while living in a positive frame of mind, often times, before it’s too late. These days just the thought of truly living in the here and now may be a challenge but Joanie’s album makes it easy and fun too.

Key to Joanie’s jazzy mystery tour on My Original Plan is guitar icon Fareed Haque, the acclaimed World jazz-fusion fretboard ace introduced by music mogul Miles Copeland and Sting way back in the mid 1990’s when the dynamic duo impressed music lovers with their now defunct, yet then essential, Pangaea Records label. Serving here too as album co-producer,  Fareed’s guitar magic pairs naturally with Joanie’s jazzy pop approach, making My Original Plan a pick to click for music fans worldwide. Best known for his jazzy nylon string guitar approach, Fareed plays a range of guitars, including electric and adds loads of fretboard pizzazz to nearly every track here. Backing that up, the attractively illustrated CD booklet features liner notes by Joanie, Fareed and Joanie’s partner at Southport Records, Bradley Parker-Sparrow.

A good example where Joanie’s jazzy pop groove meets her 1960s retro pop-centric musical vision can be readily heard on track 2, “Do Butterflies Cry?”, a track where Fareed’s mix of steel string, electric guitars and keyboards drives Joanie’s music and vocals to even higher heights. Also significant to that track are the song lyrics, co-composed here by Sparrow. A highlight of My Original Plan is “The Confessional”. Ostensibly about trusting in the rigors of religious dogma in light of a world steeped in war and injustice, “The Confessional” sounds influenced by the best folk-rock singers of the 1960s and early ‘70s such as Harry Chapin and Phil Ochs. Conjuring images of both Ochs and Chapin, “The Confessional” just oozes with crucial lyrics, catchy melodic cadences and expert musicianship. Slipping in and out of Joanie’s song lyrics and vocals, Fareed adds in some dramatic tympani. It’s also worth mentioning the expert musicianship of John Devlin (6-string electric bass), Luiz Ewerling (drums) and Bradley Parker-Sparrow (piano). Also playing on a couple of tracks is harmonica wiz Howard Levy who adds in harmonica and piano. A good example of Joanie and Howard digging each other can be heard on a tons ‘o fun track here called “Jon’s Place” as well as the buoyant CD-closing number “Lucky To Belong To You.”

Some of the tracks on My Original Plan are more jazz than pop, as you can hear on “About A Song” and on the lyric-less track “Rest” – a relaxing guitar / piano interlude, composed by Sparrow, that features Joanie’s voice backed up by both Fareed and Sparrow. Like so many of us, Joanie was a teeny bopper way back in the mid 1960s and her lyrics on “Almost 65” look back on the celebrated contributions of the Beatles and Stones and, with allusions to the Vietnam War, this memorable track is a fun-filled, misty-eyed tribute to the 1960s. The exotic flair of “Almost 65” is further enhanced by Fareed’s playing of the ‘Guistar’, with its sitar-like twang. Fareed’s guitars gives Joanie room to soar on a catchy little track here called “A Simple Time” - a song that sounds like a cross between Maria Muldaur and Joni Mitchell. Bringing the album into the present, the CD-closer “Lucky To Belong To You” ends the album on yet another upbeat note, fueled by native New Yorker Howard Levy’s irrepressible, jazzy harmonica vibes. It’s a rare thing these days to be able to locate and actually take time out to listen to an album of this depth and grace. Reconciling essential, long-standing attributes of Twentieth Century pop and jazz, Joanie Pallatto charms her music into the future with My Original Plan.