On Second Thought: Joe Mandica – A Thousand Miles (2007)

Although A Thousand Miles is Joe Mandica’s first solo effort, the Melbourne, Australia-based singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer has been around the block countless times. The title track of the disc actually arrives from the fact he’s covered so much ground in the numerous the years he’s been playing music. The Legends Duo, the Legends Trio, Legends the Band, the Initiative, and co-authoring songs with Peter Rechter of Tol-Puddle Martyrs and the Secrets, are among the activities gracing Joe’s resume.

Everyone loves a catchy song, and A Thousand Miles is packed with such specimens. Schooled in conventional songcraft, Joe positions melodies, choruses, and breaks in all the correct places. The album consistently announces how deeply versed he is in many different genres, and his ability to blend them together so naturally is nothing short of remarkable.

Dancing horn arrangements, coupled with a hard-charging power pop beat completes “Crazy Girl,” and the gutsy weeping of “Didn’t Take The Time,” as well as the emotionally-driven “Right Here Inside My Heart,” which jingles and twangs with life, roll in as top-of-the-line country rock musings. “Where Did All The Good Times Go?” slings a shot of bluesy furnishings into a crackling country concept, while “Looking For The Girl” moves nimbly to a funky groove, supported by a seductively gritty croon. A hurricane of grabbing hooks, combined with glistening vocals and a spiffy guitar solo lead the absolutely infectious “My Heart Belongs To You” to pop rock royalty, and “Look Into My Eyes,” magnified by a run of ravishing piano work, tubby licks, and shimmering arrangements, sits in a similar area. And we must not exclude “Won’t Come Home,” a sassy and brassy rocker set to a defiant swing and shuffle.

By fusing roots rock-related sounds with dribs and drabs of soul influences and commercial pop inclinations, Joe has not only paid respectable homage to music that matters, but he’s dispatched an honest to goodness magnum opus in the process. An affinity for folks like the Motown artists, Badfinger, the Kinks, Squeeze, and Elvis Costello may be transparent throughout A Thousand Miles, yet Joe certainly sports a style of his own. I anxiously await Joe’s next solo album, and you will too after bathing your ears in this beauty!

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Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 on the national charts with "Stand By Me" - which is ironically one of her favorite songs, especially the version by John Lennon. She has also contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as associate editor of Rock Beat International. Paterson's own publications have included Inside Out, and Twist And Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.