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A Walk in My Pause
Cracker Swamp Productions; 2012
With his second release, A Walk in My Pause, local artist Lone Wolf (Bruno Esposito) shows growth not only in his technical musicianship, but in his songwriting as well.
Where his first eponymous album focused on breakneck banjo picking and upbeat numbers, A Walk In My Pause offers a greater range of musical styles that allow this one-man-band phenomenon to fill his palette and daub with more colors.
Playing banjo, harmonica, and percussion, Lone Wolf OMB (one-man band) sings with the best sandpaper rasp of a voice this side of Tom Waits. He buries his low and rumbling singing to create an unmistakable vocal style that falls between the affable mumble of Mark Knopfler and sugary croak of Charlie Patton. With songs about Hurricane Andrew — “The Storm of ’92″ — and “Canned Catfish Blues,” the album sounds and feels like an authentic bit of roadside cracker culture.
Opening with “On the Road I Go,” an aggressive, upbeat stomp, the album segues into “Bored,” a country-blues number in which we get to hear the banjo step forward from the rhythm to play some tasty leads. “Carny Honky Tonk” is a breakneck car chase of a song, and “Lost Love” is the sort of dark, twisted waltz Tim Burton might love to use for his next cinematic endeavor. Elsewhere, “Stuck in a Slump,” serves as a relaxed, sweetly understated, and undemanding song that unfolds itself at a refreshingly leisurely pace. It’s the sleeper track of the album and the one you’ll be craving to hear again immediately.
Lone Wolf is shrewd enough to pace songs that alternate from fast and slow tempos to weave them into something that can be properly digested by the listener. And live, Lone Wolf cuts a striking figure on stage. Seated behind a solitary bass drum, Esposito validates the pedestrian image of the deceptively simple one-man band. It’s amazing to see him playing banjo, holding shakers in his picking hand, while building up dense layers of rhythm that makes for a fuller, richer sound.
Above all, Lone Wolf offers a unique lyrical view of the Sunshine State you’d not normally find on the nickel tour. And you’ll be richer for having listened to all he has to say.