D.B. Rielly Channels His Inner Coffeehouse

Posted by Greg on Nov 15, 2017 in Music |

There’s an old adage that says for every cockroach in New York City, there’s a starving artist trying to make a living. Whether that statement rings true remains to be seen, but it’s no secret that New York City, much like Los Angeles and Nashville, remains the birthing ground for the starving artist. Though he’s not exactly starving, NYC-based singer-songwriter D.B. Rielly has carved out a relatively unique and eccentric path on the New York City singer-songwriter scene. This after all is a man who cites Lawrence Welk and Jesus as inspirations and who not surprisingly, plays a damn good squeezebox.

His latest disc, Live From Long Island City, is a much more subdued effort. Veering away from the accordion-fueled roots-rock of his last two efforts, Live From Long Island City is a muted, introspective affair, drawing mostly on Rielly, his voice and his humor. At just seven songs, it’s actually a pretty small sample size of Rielly and truth be told, if you want an introduction to Rielly, this probably is not the set for you.

Rielly is a natural comedian and much like They Might Be Giants he inserts a jocular and whimsical bend to his earnest folk ballads. Nowhere is that more evident that on the quirky valentine “Nothing Like You,” the album’s opener and a sturdy and serviceable introduction to Rielly and his craft. That comedy is revisited in the jocular “Prenup,” a humorous take on chasing that ever-elusive one true love and a sort of epilogue to “Nothing Like You.”

Rielly’s best of this criminally terse disc are the ageless and brilliant “I Believe, Angeline,” and the open-hearted and weary “Don’t Give Up On Me.” On each of them, he has a vulnerability and a candor that lingers long after the final second. Equally stirring is the autobiographical “I’ll Remind You Every Day,” a song written for his mother. And it is on cuts like the latter that Rielly stakes his claim as an artist worth listening to. There’s a sincerity and authenticity in both his words and his melodies that makes one yearn for more.

Though he’s a self-described purveyor of American roots-rock nowhere on Long Island City is that felt. From start to finish, the album is an effort catered towards the Rockwood Music Hall and Sirius XM Coffeehouse crowd. There’s nothing wrong with chasing a niche audience, but if Rielly wants the widening spotlight of the Americana press, he needs more discs like his two predecessors. Live From Long Island City is pleasing, amiable and comfortable but it’s nowhere near the halcyon heights of debut Love Potions and Snake Oil or the equally compelling follow up Cross My Heart + Hope To Die. For now, Live From Long Island City is a dip in momentum, but one that should serve him well going forward. In the end, Rielly is at his best when he has more squeezebox, more volume and more thunder. Here’s looking towards album number four.

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