Coming On Strong
Al Sullivan, Hudson Current, February 1, 1995
Michael Massimo has played acoustic guitar for 17 years, and although he has the full, competent sound
of a veteran, he is just now making the inroads on the New York music scene. For Hudson County residents
looking for a hot new brand of folk pop, Massimo will appear at Maxwellıs on Feb. 7 at 8:30 p.m.
His solo acoustic shows are known for high energy and a percussive strumming style. Although his press
package claims a ³soulful delivery of insightful lyrics², the songs on his new tape release, Perspective, have a
penetrating sense of reality that seems to contradict his suburban background.
One critic said Massimo was a ³tad too earnest². Yet he is intelligent, professional and accessible. There
is violence in the words, and pain in the delivery, underlined by a defiance that flashes back to James Dean
movies in the 1950s and Peter Fondaıs Easy Rider from 1969.
Critics label him folk rock, and he says that heıs influenced by the early 1970s classics James Taylor, Dan
Fogelberg, Carole King, Paul Simon and others. Yet nothing about the five-song independent tape sampler is
old-fashioned, despite his 1970s musical influences.
³My songs are largely taken from my own experience,² Massimo says. ³Iım dealing with things that go
on in my life and that I think go on in other peopleıs lives, too. Itıs my job as a songwriter to encapsulate those
feelings which other people feel but canıt put their finger on.²
One song, ³Restless Ones² has heavy Spanish guitar overtones, with the hard downstroke that gives
Spanish acoustic music its energy. The song recaptures the vocal anthems that have been absent since the
mid-1970s and offers social comments on the new headlong crash of modern society with lyrics like: ³live fast,
die young, these are the cries of the restless ones/So much energy and nowhere to run.² Massimoıs songs focus
on todayıs problems in a style of yesterday, with the still-stark social perspective that contemporary artists and
institutions are trying to regain.
While not exactly a child prodigy, Massimo, an Edison native, did make a splash at the Garden State Arts
Center when he was 16. He also won awards in Billboard Songwriterıs contest and the American Song Festival.
Critics have called him a talented control freak, who plays every instrument, sings every song, designs his own
packages andtakes his own photographs for the press releases. He laughs about the press releases because his
full-time gig is with a Manhattan advertising agency, where he has learned all he needs to do for self-promotion,
a fact that partly explains how a musician out of the heart of the Jersey suburbs has begun to make noise in the
New York music scene. Early on, he said he performed largely in the New Brunswick area, covering the Central
Jersey scene. Over the last few years, heıs been showcasing himself as a singer-songwriter in the New York City
³Iım trying to spread out and cover a wider area,² he says, noting he is scheduled to appear at the Bitter
End in March. He said the real boost to his career came during his four-year stint at Wagner College on Staten
Island when he played the hip Bay Street scene as a part time job.
Although Massimo plays all the instruments and does all the promotional work, the tape, produced by
Ernie Jackson, was recorded in a friendıs apartment on an eight-track recording set-up. Now, with newly
acquired, more sophisticated digital equipment Massimo says that his next release will have even more impact.
³With more tracks weıll have less loss of quality in the mixdown,² he says.
Self-critical at some of the cuts, he says he is surprised he managed to get as good a sound from the primitive
equipment as he did. Now with digital technology, his upcoming fresh batch of tunes should have the
polished quality record companies need. He said heıs now polishing up his work before approaching record
³Companies used to nurture performers along,² he says. ³But now, they want to hear something really
polished. they donıt seem to want to work as much with musicians, but want someone thatıs ready to go.²
Massimo expects to play some new material at Maxwellıs as well as songs from his tape release. He also
tells people to expect a few cover tunes thrown in for fun.
The Musician's Exchange, June 1994
He's yearning, he's striving, he's seeking the truth. This talented control-freak played every instrument, sang, designed the package and took the photos. A tad too earnest for my taste, but kudos for an intelligent, professional, accessible effort.
The Aquarian Weekly, May 11, 1994
Edison singer/songwriter/guitarist Michael Massimo recently released his latest album, Perspective. The five-song cassette features the tunes "Restless Ones", "Everything", and "My Own Reality". Massimo has been a long-time performer in the Staten Island, NY and Central Jersey scenes ever since he won the Garden State Arts Center Talent Expo as a 16-year-old. Since then Massimo has been creating his unique blend of acoustic rock and pop at various venues throughout the NYC area, including The Village Gate, Kenny's Castaways and The Back Fence. For upcoming dates and more info write to Massimo at PO Box 141, Edison, NJ 08818-0141 or call 732-661-1941.
A New 'Perspective' From Michael Massimo
Michael Hoffman, The Wagnerian, April 27, 1994
Don't you just hate it when you get all set to say something and your words just fail you? I know I do, and those who know me know words don't fail me often.
But this time they almost did, as I sat down to write about Michael Massimo's new EP, Perspective.
It's not easy for most people to convey their thoughts and emotions adequately through words. It's probably 10 times more difficult for a songwriter to express himself, to truly make you feel what he felt when he put pen to paper. Michael Massimo accomplishes just that on his new album.
Perspective is a five-song independent album released just two weeks ago. All the songs were written and performed by Massimo, from the full-band sound in "Restless Ones" and "Free" to the beautiful two- and three-part harmonies on "Everything", "My Own Reality" and "Come Back New".
The album was produced by Ernie Jackson and he has done a superb job bringing across Massimo's passion for music and life.
Massimo's sound, although definitely rooted in the folk sounds of people like James Taylor, has a unique and easily identifiable quality. From voice to guitar, Massimo is himself, to his full credit. The songs themselves are equally individualistic, even though there is no mistaking that they all came from the same source.
Massimo does a very good job at writing five different songs with five different identities - and none sound the same.
Perhaps the only detracting comments I could offer about this album is Massimo's performance of all the instruments. Even though he does an excellent job on guitar, his forte, and a competent job as well on bass and percussion, I can't help but wonder if the use of extra musicians to handle those jobs might have added just a slightly stronger dimension to the accompanying arrangements.
But the fact of the matter is that Michael Massimo has created nothing short of a truly beautiful music product. The only thing lacking is the support of a record label with the resources to afford him the studio time and personnel to perfect the album.
From the looks - and sounds - of it, he shouldn't have that long to wait. Michael Massimo is going places, and Perspective is step one.