The album begins simply with an acoustic guitar. Different percussion instruments joined in with a steady bass at the bottom. Liotta performed on all the instruments as well as composing and arranging all the music. Liotta also produced the album along with the gifted Scott Schorr.
With all of his performance skills on full display, it is the vocals and the lyrics he sings that stand out in such emotional clarity and distinction. There is an unmistakable brilliance to Andy Liotta and it is impossible, I think, to remain unmoved by what he offers.
“Being with You” is the title of the opening track. There is a touch of Harry Nilsson in his intonation and warmth. The lyrics on this piece, however, are not as charming as his delivery. Despite the light-hearted vocalization, there is a darkness and an obsession that culminates in the droning conclusion “Being with you, being with you, being with you, being with you…”
“Nadine” follows and is an aching work of self-examination. It is beautifully crafted both musically and lyrically. The delivery is astonishing and agonizing.
Liotta made videos of each song on “Monday Songs” and can be found on You Tube, uploaded by Liotta himself. It is a fascinating exercise to see Liotta’s personal vision of each track. Here the album first, then watch the collected videos.
“Fading to Grey” begins with a bit of Country-Gospel with smooth organ and piano but, at the 2:14 mark, an amazing transformation takes place in the bridge. It is moving and uplifting, even after the song returns to the original Country-Gospel groove. This was a piece that made the listener hear the music over the lyrics for, perhaps, the only time on the album.
Liotta is a splendid lyricist. His imagery and turn of a phrase is simply sterling and his diction is crystal clear. “The Weather” and “Gravity” are great examples of this. While poles apart in their messages and structure, that same lyrical brilliance makes them both heavy with the truth.
Then comes “Up, Up and Away” with its melancholy introduction and darkly humorous lyrics. Yet, with all of that, Andy Liotta continues to speak the truth. The melancholy and humor are by no means frivolous. There is a depth that is often disturbing. Reading Liotta’s biography at www.andyliotta.com reveals that in 1999 he spent time (a week) in a psych ward. His ability to lay bare those emotions is remarkable.
“Still Life” is a reflective piece that sounds like a return to the scene of a crime. Not a violent sort of thing, but it rather sounds like returning to a place of emotional catastrophe. Whether it is a return to the parents’ home or a return to his own home, there is a jarring impact of coming back to the place of real trauma. Even if only the remembrance of the death of Thurman Munson or the recollection of a bloody-knuckles incident, it is the reminiscence of things that hurt and haunt.
“Behind the Blue” and “Ghost Story” are also that reflective. It becomes sadly clear just how autobiographical this album may really be.
For all the sadness, however, there remains a whiff of hope, if only in the lightness of the music itself. There is also a certain self-deprecating whimsy that belies the melancholy of the lyrics, especially in “Cry.” “Lost and Found,” on the other hand, is nearly reaching the bottom of fruitless self-examination in all its pain.
The album concludes with an extraordinary surrender in “(Pump Up the) Valium.” It is an incredible piece of music and lyrics. It is a capitulation to numbness. It is powerful and it is profound and it is relentless in its hold on the listener.
Andy Liotta is an imaginative vocalist. As a musician, he is an aggressive minimalist. As a composer and poet he is merciless in his laying bare of memory and emotion. In other words, Andy Liotta is the gentlest of jailers.
Visit Andy Liotta's website at: www.andyliotta.com
Purchase "Monday Songs" here.