Personnel: Anthony D'Amato (vocals, guitar, banjo, harmonica, percussion); Conor Oberst (vocals); Derek Cruz (guitar, banjo, harmonica, accordion, keyboards, percussion); Mike Mogis (mandolin); Megan Siebe (violin, viola, cello); Katy Pinke (harmonica); Lynn Ligammari (saxophone); Miwi La Lupa (horns); David Ozinga, Clark Baechle (drums).
Audio Mixer: Mike Mogis.
Recording information: ARC Studios, Omaha, NE.
Photographer: Meredith Truax.
Singer and songwriter Anthony D'Amato sounds like a folkie at heart on his second album for New West, 2016's Cold Snap. But he has just enough in the way of rock & roll instincts to promise to give his beloved two of his Tom Petty albums. (Hey, plenty of guys have gotten farther on gifts with less lasting value.) D'Amato also had the good sense to hire Mike Mogis to produce Cold Snap, and while Mogis doesn't mess with the heart of D'Amato's songs, he gives this music a healthy dose of energy and punch. On primarily acoustic numbers like "A Kick in the Teeth," "Honey, That's Not All," and "Once," D'Amato's songs sound warm and literate, but also more than a bit monochromatic, and their melodic similarity doesn't say much for his way with music. But when Mogis pairs D'Amato with a studio band that includes members of Cursive and the Faint (as well as Mr. Bright Eyes himself, Connor Oberst, on backing vocals), the tunes come to life with a freewheeling bounce that not only perks up the melodies but adds some snap and spice to D'Amato's wordplay en route. When Cold Snap heats up, D'Amato and his crew bring a depth and color to this music that fuses vintage folk-rock with '70s East Coast rock & roll, with big drums straight out of a classic Phil Spector session. On his own, D'Amato is a good but not quite outstanding singer and songwriter. With the right band, he turns out to be something special, and Cold Snap gives him just enough of a rock & roll kick to make this album smart, fun, and worthy of investigation. ~ Mark Deming