John Degarmo – JD & Friends- Music Feeds Your Soul
I Got A Crush On You, Without Love, Midnight Don’t Come Easy, We’re Movin’ to Nashville, Oh Darlin’, I Never Needed Love, Love Love Love, One Too Many Beers, People In Hell Want Ice Water, Come Along With Me, What to do About You, My Best Friend
John DeGarmo was born and raised in California, and took to singing and crafting songs at an early age. The name DeGarmo is synonymous with music. His relative Diana DeGarmo is a well known singer on Broadway, and “…cousin Eddie “ was President of EMI CMG and involved with Country Music stars Brad Paisley and Dierks Bentley as well was part of the Christian duo DeGarmo & Key. The latter was a good reason for this songwriter to reach out to his now retired Emi Producer cousin to chat about music and compare notes on songwriting and performance just last year. Because this artist is blind he feels his ears and listening skills has enhanced his improvisation with a certain fluidity no one can deny. Not even his cousin Eddie can deny JD’s strong suits, and came to a performance giving him two thumbs up.
His skills, stature, and stage presence has made him accepted in a very prolific Bay Area music circuit. Residing near San Jose, and with a rapid transit pass, he frequently travels to San Francisco to get in the mix with many stars and recent 2015 Grammy winners. We will definitely look forward to checking out his second album being released later this year that will encompass the talents of those he rubs elbows with in The City By The Bay. This is where you can catch him weave melodic tales of woe and love weekly. If you are looking for him, you will find him. You actually won’t be able to miss him, expect him to be looking a bit like Edgar Winter, and around the same age.
John DeGarmo has contributed treasures to the Country Music world catalogue. “We’re Moving to Nashville” was penned by JD, but with music tracks crediting Squid Vicious aka German born guitarist Bobby Scott. Squid, or Scott, has worked with Pointer Sisters and Stevie Wonder, and been described in print as “The Otto Preminger of Rock and Roll”. The song has every element of Country that you need in a fix, and you will likely inspire one to book a trip to Nashville soon. Besides JD’s clear lyrical craft, the guitar mastery will also stand out.
True to Country Music’s appeal, the listener will want to cry in his or her Hefeweissbier upon hearing the “Oh Darlin’ ” lament. While you ponder over the time old question, “ Where did our love go? “ please be sure to take the opportunity to waltz with a dance partner. JD will take any lovers down memory lane on this track number five. He does showcase the depth of his vocal range on this lovely tune.
The song, “ Midnight Don’t Come Easy” could only be written by the experienced artist and writer, and in this case, multiple writers. Its harmony style is reminiscent of a person well versed in 1970’s style of Country vocal layering, it has some well thought out structures that were made popular in modern movies around then. Think: country soul, living hard in the city. I see a cowboy in my mind’s eye outside of a skyscraper. Randall/Butler/Randall wrote this track, heralding from a Christian music background. It’s gut-wretching to hear him plea “Take me back, take me back, take me back…..” and then a calvacade of notes fall giving it a jazz tinge. Then comes the chorus of girls, who you just can imagine in jeans and country shirts outside of Houston somewhere, where a love and loss are the horns of the bull.
“One Too Many Beers”, and “Love Love Love” I would like to point out are also “ Countrifried “ topics, much like chicken fried steak and chess pie, and terrific, but the album is mixed with also not-so-Country songs. “I Got a Crush on You” is Pop Rock. “Without Love” is poignant and immortal, has a super fantastic message and is Soft Rock, but heck, we’ll just call it Folk. “People in Hell Want Ice Water” might become your theme song for your worst break up ever; it’s snappy, and once again Country. The listener really gets a wide array of styles at play. So, why on earth, do you think, we would review this CD, when it is so blatantly non-Country in part? It is because the songs that are on this CD that meet the true Country spirit are so very solid, for any songwriter to come up with them, they must be Country at Heart.
Sometimes artists take a decade to make a record, and in doing so have an analog depth and dimension hybrid with a digital age product. These recordings have that feel. The album was cut and then added to later, and although it is not a bad album, you become quasi aware of it, and could wonder about the mastering validity. I think they have solid songs, and merit in the body of work. If you are willing to overlook the mysterious quality question, likely originally a funding issue and a mastering nightmare, you have certainly discovered for yourself a worthy catalog of material.
It is John Degarmos' first album, and sold over 10,000 copies and then picked up Distribution. The artist is working on his second release and rumor is it has 16 songs, far more than the 40minute industry standard that is required. It’s likely to have fine musical gems among the tracks, to be sure. It won’t surprise this reviewer if some of these New Country Songs, are picked up by younger artists who run with them bringing this songwriter over the top, where he belongs. John DeGarmo is sure to seal his place, in the Great Country Hall of Fame, one day.
.RECORD REVIEW BY BARBARA MEYER-SPIDELL – Music Journalist, Country Music News International