Massimo's Time Has Come With Precious Seconds
Jacqueline Durett, The Islander, July 2, 1999
Michael Massimo is no stranger to the LBI and mainland area. Recently he brought his acoustic sound to the Cranberry Bog and Fabian's. He'll be back in early July at both places. But if you can't wait that long, you can check out his CD, Precious Seconds. Precious Seconds delves more into the alternative side of Massimo without losing any richness of his acoustic style.
Massimo, who quit his full time day job for life on the road in 1997, doesn't seem to have any regrets about his risky decision.
"I was the first guy in the office and the last guy to leave. Playing clubs in NYC until 2 a.m., taking the Staten Island Ferry to my car to drive home to Jersey then returning to work at 8 a.m. wears thin when all I really wanted to do was explore my talent and share my music."
Precious Seconds, Massimo's third CD, was recorded with studio musicians, and even though the songs were rehearsed and planned out, Massimo told Songwriter's Monthly that some of the best moments were completely unexpected. On the album, there was one song where a string broke on Massimo's guitar.
"That 'pop' was perfect," he told them. "I couldn't have planned that any better."
Massimo, 27, also has a CD called Live In N.Y.C. and one titled Perspective. Born in Edison, Massimo participated in various musical pursuits while he was growing up. When he was 16 he won second place in the Garden State Arts Center Talent Expo, which included a performance at what is now known as the PNC Bank Arts Center.
In addition, Massimo has expanded his act. He's added some modern rock tunes, covering songs from bands like Stone Temple Pilots and Soundgarden.
Michael Massimo is Serving Up "Precious Seconds"
Patrice A. D'Angelo, JerseyStyle, January, 2000
Michael Massimo is an accomplished guitarist, vocalist and songwriter hailing from Edison, New Jersey. His music, described by Michael himself as "contemporary acoustic", and talent is showcased on his latest release, Precious Seconds (December, 1988). The third CD in Michael's catalog, Precious Seconds has enjoyedextensive airplay throughout several states from Maine to Arizona.
Michael began playing guitar at seven years old, and by nine started right in on songwriting; he describes his early attempts as "ŠterribleŠbut they got better." But even as he honed his skills as a young musician, he joined only one rock band: unfortunately, the other members wanted to move on to a "real job". Michael then went solo while performing through college but also had to resort to a day job like his friends to make ends meet.
As Michael wrote and showcased new material, his music was well received over sveral shows at both nightclubs and college campuses. By now, he's racked up an impressive 1,000-plus gigs! But according to Michael's promotional package, "Playing in clubs until 2 a.m., taking the Staten Island Ferry to my car to drive home to Jersey, then returning to work at 8 a.m. wears thin on the soul; all I really wanted to do was explore my talent and share my music. Now I have reached a place in my life where I can peacefully explore and expand my art and rediscover why I started performing."
As we listened to Precious Seconds, Michael's music stood out right away as something original, even experimental, compared to many Jersey bands. You won't catch many Backstreet Boys riffs here; Rhythm and News Magazine described the compositions as "Šmore epic and grandiose than your average pop song." While Michael's bio refers to him as as "acoustic alternative singer/songwriter" his music seemed more reminiscient of a talent from a different age. Icons like James Taylor, Joe Jackson and even Steely Dan came to mind. The melodies and lyrics were thoughtful and positive, unlike most of the cookie-cutter acts on the radio today. (Interestingly, in an interview I read later Michael named James Taylor, Dan Fogelberg and Jackson Browne as some of his influences.)
In a visit to Michael's website, www.michaelmassimo.com, I learned that after so many shows, three successful CDs and lots of airplay, Michael is taking a break. He's planning to reconnect with his music after spending so much time on the daily grind of promoting himself. He has his sights set on writing a new CD and plans to come back with more music and subsequent shows. We'd definitely be interested in hearing what he comes up with next!
Performer's Unplugged Potential
Kelly-Jane Cotter, Asbury Park Press, October 16, 1999
There's a rock band in Michael Massimo, struggling to get out.
He may not know this yet, which is probably why he sticks to the solo circuit, but the music on Massimo's third self-released CD, "Precious Seconds", cries out for full rock treatment.
The title track, for instance, would sound just as nice covered by Metallica as it does in the coffeehouses where Massimo usually plays.
Imagine these lyrics from "Precious Seconds" rendered in brooding Metallica fashion: "Endless waiting, quicksand register. Doing time, in line, at the five and dime. Needed aspirin for my cracking skull. You're killing time. It's mine, it's mine." Massimo has a knack for capturing everyday frustration and he's deft with more nuanced feelings as well.
The singer-songwriter from Edison writes music infused with tension. His sense of musical dynamics is well honed-he uses his guitar as well as his voice to express a broad range of emotions.
Other lyrics on the album seem destined for Billy Joel or James Taylor without the sentimentality that can weigh down a good story-song. For example, there's "Lucky": "Lucky Joe went down to the corner store, to buy his racing form, his cigarettes. Five will get you ten he's gambling again, on number three to win, ain't made him rich yet. He ain't no Secretariat or Man O' War and since he turned four they want to take him from the game. They say it's over, his day is done. He's too old to ride, and his running stride just ain't the same." The character Lucky Joe and the horse named Lucky have much in common. This bittersweet song explores the drudgery of aging and the way that a simple dream can be the key to transcendence. The elderly Lucky Joe sounds authentic, which is a credit to 29-year-old Massimo's imagination or his listening skills or both.
Rene Bo, Rhythm And News Magazine, July 1999
"As a kid I recognized the power music has to change your mood. It's kind of like therapy." Twenty-three years after writing his first song, Michael Massimo sticks by that philosophy.
His music might be described by radio programmers as "modern alternative acoustic" but Massimo isn't singing folk songs. Though he does include 70's singer/songwriters like James Taylor and Carole King on his list of influences, progressive rock plays as big a role in the music he makes.
Massimo's music is more epic and grandiose than your average pop song. He seeks to forge new musical territory by combining complex chords and progressions underneath his often spiritual lyrics. "Touch The Sky", off his latest CD "Precious Seconds" is one such example, about a child losing his father to war and his desire to understand it.
"The first question I ask myself when writing a song is 'What am I trying to say?'. My goal is to say something in a way that has never been said before yet still relates to the listener. I think that's always been the role of the artist in any form."
Michael Massimo - Precious Seconds
Larry Davis, Rant 'N Rave July 20, 1999
Here is Edison, NJ and NYC mainstay singer/songwriter Michael Massimo with his full length studio album "Precious Seconds". It follows his acclaimed live album, "Live In NYC" and an EP, "Perspective". He usually performed solo acoustic in the past, but he has a full touring band together now. The studio recordings, this one and the EP, have full arrangements, while the live one is solo acoustic. This new CD is a long time coming, and from one listen, you can tell Massimo put his heart and soul into the songs, arrangements and their production. The sound is nice and crisp but subtle, full-fledged but not over blown. The songs themselves show a growth cycle in Massimo's songwriting craft, as well as his already impressive full, rich voice and great guitar playing. This guy has been playing live to no end for growing, rapturous audiences, yet being shunned by the local press for reasons I don't know.
His songs could work in three ways: as singer/songwriter material, pop songcraft, and pure unadulterated rock & roll. Maybe he doesn't fit a specific niche, but to me, that gives Michael even more options to choose from and in the end have his fans grow threefold. "Precious Seconds" is seriously worth the wait. One of the best records of recent months by a great, growing songwriter, killer singer. The songs run the gamut from the catchy power pop of "Touch The Sky", "Too Much Fun" and the title track to the jazzy "Asylum" and masterful "Something To Find". Nine great , powerful songs that will turn heads upon impact and get people wondering, "Who is this guy?". His name is Michael Massimo; remember it.