John Michael Ferrari – Be the Smile on Your Face – Review

John Michael FerrariA fun-loving, storytelling Nam Vet from Hollywood, CA, John Michael Ferrari pours out a whiskey-hued glass of Pop, Country, Gospel, Blues and Jazz in his music. Often backed by a crew of docs – drummer Dr. John Nowins, bassist Dr. David Miller on Bass, and keyboardist Dr. Bruce Topper on keys – Ferrari’s sons are also produced by his longtime collaborator Pepper Jay. Influenced by The Wrecking Crew, Glen Campbell, and Tony Bennett, Ferrari delivers love croon vibes on his newest album, Be the Smile on Your Face, released on May 12.

John Michael Ferrari – Be the Smile on Your Face

The first song and title track on the album starts things off slow and spaciously, emitting wisps of twinkling guitar and piano arpeggios. Suddenly a twang-y electric guitar echoes Ferrari’s lyrical sentiment with up-down slides that tug at the heartstrings. Ferrari’s vocal delivery is a cross between honky-tonk storytelling and soft rock crooning, with an uplifting bridge that features supporting harmonies. This song is a sweet and tender love ballad with a glistening sheen that puts you in a good mood with country and soft rock vibes.

One of the jazzier sounding songs on the album, “Don’t Need A Reason” is like a soft shuffle you’d hear being performed by Randy Newman. Loving yet playful, silly yet sweet, the lyrics show deep affection and adoration for another person. Nowins’ drums sweep along with soft brushes playing swung eighths, while you can simultaneously hear whispers of lap steel sliding up and down and quick little dabbles on the piano. This song is a fitting example of how Ferrari evenly blends jazz, pop, and country into one cohesive sound — each note sung out is a piece of kindling that burns with warm welcome and earthy humility.

“Nowhere to LA” is a song about living on the road, with lyrics describing the ups and downs of a traveling performer’s experiences and the loneliness that ensues along the way. Reminiscing on past memories as the song continues, the listener can hear more pedal steel echoing Ferrari’s sentiments in the background. Like a journal entry written to his audience when no one else is there to comfort him, “Nowhere to LA” brings out the blues side of Ferrari’s songwriting.

“What Are You Doing” features a guitar melody in the beginning that hints at the chorus melody and shows off Ferrari’s fast-fingered guitar playing skill. One of the more upbeat and more forward driving songs on the album, the lyrics in this song are about having dreams and whether or not people follow them throughout their life. Ferrari’s voice is accompanied by backing harmonies in the chorus as he poses a question that could be seen as a simple gesture of love interest, but could also be seen as a greater existential dilemma that needs to be asked aloud to himself and to the audience.

The most upbeat and pop-forward song on the album, “Who Can Blame A Broken Heart” offers an uplifting message to those who don’t have a significant other that it’s ok to be alone. Some of John Michael Ferrari’s songs are about being in love, and some are about being out of love – this one being the latter. This song is an a honest look at the acceptance of loneliness that comes with love, but leaves you feeling a little bit better about it no matter what kind of situation you may find yourself in.

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