by Alix Cohen


John Bucchino is an acquired taste. An evening of highly personal, original songs garnered from his sizeable trunk, reveal an often solitary man of deep feeling and strong loyalties.

With few exceptions, those selected sound like poetic prose performed simultaneous to, rather than accompanied by music. Bucchino eschews rhymes, doesn’t really care whether lyrics sync or even if they’re fluidly singable. What seems to be important is evocative mood and direct expression. Though it doesn’t help that his voice, though emotional, is almost monotone, similar quality doesn’t damage Leonard Cohen’s work.


Tonight we hear “Those Ambrosia Days,” an apocalyptic number evidently written during the Bush Jr. reign in anticipation of the worst (thus, topical today) that asks: When was sheer survival not the greatest treasure? “Puddle of Love” : I turned my head to look back at us and fell into a puddle of love…Lovely title, awkward song. And two dedicated to Joni Mitchell, the first self indulgent repetition to a pretty tune, the second an encouraging cheer towards individualism with dense, emphatic piano.


A song commissioned (with Michael Feinstein) for the anniversary of Carnegie Hall is sheer cliché. A suicidal number featuring a bloody bath tub where lyrics fight music (indicating turmoil?) is paired with another featuring inspecific depression. Two from Bucchino’s musical A Catered Affair (book by Harvey Fierstein) fared better with real actors and trained voices (as they sound like prose.)


Those I thought worked best were the most melodic: a self-avowed country number called “Oh Lord, I’ve Mastered The Plastic Smile” …don’t let it settle on me! …which is gentle and wry, and “My Alligator and Me”, from Urban Myths, a jaunty song about a boy’s imaginary friend which is cleverly written and charmingly performed. Bucchino’s mom thinks it should be a picture book. I agree. Also intriguing was the artist’s jazzy interpretation (he calls them improvisations) on The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night” which bore an original stamp.

Photo: Maryann Lopinto


October 17, 2016

The Duplex     61 Christopher Street

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