Peter Calo: Time Machine

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Peter Calo

Time Machine

(En Route Records)

March 19, 2018

Reviewed by Alix Cohen for Cabaret Scenes 

The songs of Time Machine might reflect its author looking back down the long road, but they also embody an era when singer-songwriters penned conversational lyrics with breath between lines and engineers employed no audible tricks. Calo’s stories are yours and mine. Sentiment is honest, arrangements textured, but unfussy. Musicianship, both muscular and gentle, is superb.

The artist’s voice is fairly deep, appealingly rough. We hear grit, depth and heart. “Awn” instead of “on” slides easily off his tongue, but there’s nothing phony about it.

Notes are flexible, range comfortable. Songs are a mixed bag. “Elephants Never Forget” doesn’t, alas, create images and I miss the evocative, lift-off title “One Step Ahead of Crazy” as a lyric in the body of that number.

“Do I Love You Too Much?” emerges with infectious rhythm—one bobs, bops, taps. I find myself leaning in to the warm vocal. Emotion is authentic and universal “…Am I really that blind?/Am I that out of touch?/Am I losing my mind?/Do I love you that much?….” “Touch” arrives in four syllables. Guitar is sinuous. The song is sensitive, reflective— a sigh of acknowledgment and perhaps resignation.

“Sail Away” is simply lovely. Without elaborate changes, expressions of regret, exhaustion, and hope against hope are clear. Calo makes the song personal. When “sail away” rises, I palpably feel it. It’s easy to imagine him standing outside, looking up at a window, sliding a note under the door.

“Every Ordinary Day” feels like country to me, as if the singer stood barefoot in dewy grass drinking morning coffee. History conjures photos of his years with “her” floating cinematically by. This is a grateful, optimistic man. Both tune and lyric are tranquil, affectionate, uplifting. Sway with it. It’s a song you might want to loop.

“Don’t Ever Go Away” is an unadulterated love song. OK, they all are. But, it’s feeling pride across a room, laughing at foibles, unspoken acceptance, solace after one of those days, forgiveness, and connection that sustains.

Alix Cohen

Alix Cohen’s writing began with poetry, segued into lyrics then took a commercial detour. She now authors pieces about culture/the arts, including reviews and features. A diehard proponent of cabaret, she’s also a theater aficionado, a voting member of Drama Desk, The Drama League and of The NY Press Club in addition to MAC. Currently, Alix writes for Cabaret Scenes, Theater Pizzazz and Woman Around Town. Additional pieces have been published by The New York Post, The National Observer’s Playground Magazine, Pasadena Magazine and Times Square Chronicles. Alix is the recipient of six New York Press Club Awards.