1. Starring Role
2. Falling Through
3. Wide Awake & Dreaming
4. Waiting For Me
5. No Uncertain Terms
6. Wing & A Prayer
7. Corner Of My Eye
8. Place In Line
9. Along The Way
10. La Pregunta de Corazon
11. Tell Me If
12. Wake Up
13. Think Of You
14. While You Sleep
John Taglieri’s 4th album is both a familiar feeling and a travel across the corner. Although, at times, John ventures away from his traditional song writing, he is able to maintain his musical signature. Many of the songs on this album are in the tradition of his previous work, but yet a little different, or a little more complex. Or in one or two cases, maybe even more simplistic, but in a good way, because he just strips the music down to the essence. This recording artist hasn’t forgotten what it’s all about, it’s about emotion and doing what it takes to purchase your dreams. There is one little note of criticism here though. Compared to his last album, “NOW!”, this album might lack a bit of cohesion. All the songs on “NOW!” were tightly glued together and could really be presented as one package. This is less so on “Wide Awake & Dreaming”. But these days it seems to be a choice you make: cohesion versus variety. In no ways I am trying to discredit this album, cause the songs are very well crafted, and John proves us once again, that he is a very gifted lyricist. With gems as Starring Role, Waiting For Me, Wing & A Prayer, Corner Of My Eye, & Tell Me If, as well as very catchy tunes as Falling Through, Place In Line, & Think Of You, this album has a lot of potential. Also noteworthy are the title track Wide Awake & Dreaming and While You Sleep. As you see I’ve already mentioned most of the tracks on this album, which shows you how hard it is to pick an absolute favourite.
The album starts with the lead single Starring Role. This catchy, upbeat song with a deep lyrical insight in life, is an extremely clever choice as a first single. Lyrically it will appeal to many people as everyone lives a life with its ups and downs, and this song appeals to your inner strength & wisdom. And melodically this song is just extremely hard to get out of your head. “You only get one shot at this, your life’s the only starring role you get to play”. If there’s one person realizing this, it must be John Taglieri.
The energetic and catchy, and slightly alternative song Falling Through is the 2nd track on the album. There is a very pumped up drum track on this song, and John’s vocals sound fresh and aggressive, sometimes with a hint of Bob Dylan, and at times I can hear similarities with Nine Days (is it a coincidence Nine Days are influenced by Dylan?). If you are into Bob Dylan you should give this song a listen, it connects. “Too many times you stood out on the edge but you step back right before it gets good” Do I need to say more about his lyrics?
Next up is the title track Wide Awake & Dreaming. Very much a sing-along song. It’s calmer, less upbeat than the opening tracks but it still has a steady pace. With a great chorus, later filled in with background vocals by Gina Gerzberg, Jeanette Ferguson & Josh Rifkin: “Cause I’m wide awake and dreaming/Those shadows, can’t find me anymore/These days I’m believing/In everything that I’m fighting for”, I promise you that you won’t be able to resist to let this song take over and sing along.
The next song on this album might well be competing for being the best track on the album. Waiting For Me is one of those songs that virtually everyone will be able to connect with. “So maybe I’m crazy, for chasing that dream/It hasn’t been easy, like some make it seem/I can’t help but feeling, my best is yet to be/Cause somewhere there’s something better waiting for me”. Accompanied on piano by Tom Darby, John brings out his clearest vocals and with both music and lyrics that are typically John Taglieri, he speaks to you right into your heart.
No Uncertain Terms is the song that follows. The song reminds me of Bowling For Soup, Stroke 9 & especially SR-71. Thanks to the vocals though, this is unmistakably a John Taglieri song. But musically it would’ve fit on “Now You See Inside” by SR-71. However, SR-71 one’s debut album is one of my favourite albums, so this is not necessarily a bad thing. This is a catchy up-tempo song, and it is very decent, and it’s admirable that John Taglieri tries to mix up the sound on the album, to not get to monotonous. Something in which he absolutely succeeds, cause this album is quite versatile. And even though I like this song, I can hardly call it one of my favourites. It’s good but for John’s standards, it doesn’t stand out.
Up next is a quite different song, Wing & A Prayer. This song has a really cool build-up. Very inspirational. For people who have lost someone or who have lost contact with someone, this song is something they will be able to connect to. John Taglieri has been going through a lot in the past year and the depth of perspective that he has is astonishing. And part of that really shows in this song. You can hear that John really gave it his all on this song, as on the rest of the album, but this song is an excellent example of how he put his soul into his music. The vocals are pure strength and emotion, while the music perfectly accentuates it. No more words needed, just listen to it.
Corner of My Eye, a song that took my breath away the first time I heard it, and it still does. The intro slightly reminds me of Vertical Horizon while the vocals have some hints of Bob Dylan & James Taylor at times. Musically this sounds familiar to John’s previous work, but at the same time it sounds completely different. “This world becomes what we make of it”, he sings. And that is pretty much the essence of the message John is trying to bring across. Things might seem worse than you thought they could be, but it’s easy to just let it happen. The real strength lies in fighting for what’s worth it and trying to make things better.
The next song is Place In Line, which immediately made me think of Rosemary’s Sons, a Dutch band that plays music that is usually described as roots rock. (country influenced pop/rock). This band is often compared to Bruce Springsteen, Gin Blossoms, & earlier Matchbox 20. And the same, I can say for this song. It has that Rosemary’s Sons/Gin Blossoms-esque sound. You can just imagine yourself driving down a country road with this song blasting out of your speakers, driving away to nowhere. “Don’t know where I’m going/Can’t say that I’m on the right track now/I just feel that I’m gonna jump this time/From my place in line.” Exactly?! Definitely a song competing for best track on the album.
Next up is Along The Way. The associations with the Gin Blossoms ain’t over. I can kinda hear it in this song too. But when John sings “..that somehow I got lost, along the way, along the way” it is so unmistakably John Taglieri. Exactly the way I know him. At first, I couldn’t really get into this song, but it is really growing on me. I believe there are stronger songs on the album, but I also believe that initially I underestimated the strength of this song. So if you don’t really like this song when you start listening to the CD, give it a few more listens, it might grow on you.
La Pregunta de Corazon, an odd name for a song, compared to all the other song titles. It basically is an instrumental intermezzo on the CD. It is beautiful, but honestly, I don’t think it really fits with the rest of the album. Personally, I consider it nice bonus material, but I think it would’ve been better to just put this at the end of the album. But if you close your eyes and empty your mind, this nice little melody will take you away to Spain or Mexico, and you can take an imaginary vacation.
However, when the album continues with Tell Me If, we see why La Pregunta wasn’t put at the end of the album. Because La Pregunta serves as a long intro for this song. I’m not sure if I think Tell Me If fits in with the rest of the album, but personally, I don’t really care, because I think this song is one of the best that John Taglieri has ever written. This will never do well on mainstream radio, unfortunately, cause I think this song on itself shows what John Taglieri is capable of. I wouldn’t be surprised if many people will have a hard time getting used to it but I believe that this is probably the most creative track on the album.
The next two tracks belong together. Wake Up is merely an alarm clock, used as an intro for Think Of You, which should absolutely be a single. It is not one of the best songs of the album, but it’s pure fun. Imagine Bowling For Soup in their early days, maybe some early Simple Plan, and mix that with John Taglieri’s vocals & lyrics and you get this. It’s extremely catchy and an absolute sing-along. I just start jumping around on this one. Catchy, electric, refreshing, and absolutely energetic.
The album ends with While You Sleep, a soothing piano ballad, that is a PERFECT album closer. It reminded me of something, but I couldn’t lay my finger on it. But then it struck me. It reminds me of Wherever You Will Go by The Calling and even more of Storm by Lifehouse. “I might get the nerve to tell you every now and then/it seems I only say I love you… while you sleep” What better line to end an album with.
John Taglieri did it again. Combining very well-crafted songs with fine lyrics and bringing across a message to the audience. He is not only a good songwriter, a gifted lyricist, a good guitar player and a great singer, he’s also a good man. And you can recognize this by listening to his music, as it is as honest and pure as the man and the message he is giving us. This adds to the already excellent music on this album. My personal favourites are Waiting For Me, Corner of my Eye, Place In Line, & While You Sleep, but now it’s up to you. You decide what your favourites are. All I can do is very strongly recommend you to listen to this excellent collection of songs on John Taglieri’s new album “Wide Awake & Dreaming”!!