The abundance of acoustic guitar and traditional instrumentation - John's own warmly engaging harmonica, the gently flowing strains of Rik Mercaldi's mellifluous steel guitar, John Burke's steady but unintrusive drumming, and Phil Ippolito's melodic bass lines - might cause the casual listener to dismiss this as a "country" album, as if that was a bad thing. (After all, what's a born 'n' bred Jersey boy doing warbling "yippi yo ki yi yay?" ) But if this is country, it's country-eastern, as influenced by the smokestacks and snarling streams of traffic that surround John's suburban home studio as by such obvious, classic, and definitely non-country influences as Neil Young, Dylan, and Gram Parsons.
The warmth and richness of every track here, with their finely-crafted layers of instrumentation, are a testament to John Raido's skills as a Do-It-Yourself producer and engineer. But all the pretty guitars, keyboards, and harmonicas in the world wouldn't matter were it not for the most important instrument on this album, John's voice. This is no callow emo boy endlessly reliving that one bad day in junior high; this is a man who's known more than his share of heartbreak and joy - a couple of marriages, a couple of kids, and a day job teaching special needs children, a vocation that requires more patience, heart, and enthusiasm on a daily basis than most of us can imagine.
The happy songs here bounce and sparkle and will make you smile, but I think John really shines as a singer-songwriter on the sad ones: The plaintive longing of "Blind," accentuated by Rik Mercaldi's exquisite steel guitar; John's depth of emotion and appreciation on "Like," the gritty tone of regret and bluesy self-flagellation on "I Was Wrong," the almost palpable sadness he infuses into the beautiful and deeply felt ballad, "Blue," and the gently lilting optimism of "Rollercoaster," which shines through this track like the first hint of sun after a week of dark and stormy days.
It took me about five minutes after hearing John Raido perform for the first time to know that I wanted him to play on my record. I don't know if there's a higher compliment than that, but I'll give it a shot: Guitarist, harpist, singer, songwriter, producer, engineer, father, lover, teacher, friend... I commend you to Boxcar Nancy. Get aboard, enjoy the journey, and don't forget to send postcards.
Â - Jim Testa- Jersey Beat Magazine
Check out the artist's website:
1. That's All Right
2. Turning 'Round
4. Everybody's Feeling Fine
5. Groovy #14
7. I Was Wrong
11. Turning 'Round (Reprise)