Cole Petrone wears his heart on his sleeve on Songteller
Vancouver singer-songwriter Cole Petrone wears his heart on his sleeve. That’s a good thing when it comes to his influences, which lean toward the usual ’60s stalwarts, as well as ’70s pop craftsmen like Stephen Bishop and Christopher Cross. The harmonically adventurous, self-produced outing is supported by well-recorded tunes that are often as catchy as that retro feel demands.
The downside is that Petrone, who has done well in a number of songwriting contests, is awfully straightforward with his lyrics. “I Have a Dream” is just the ode to Martin Luther King Jr. you’d expect from that title, and “Can’t Eat Your Money”—well, you can guess what that’s about. This earnestness isn’t leavened by the leader’s thin, high voice, or his tendency to sing slightly sharp most of the time.
Listeners not distracted by these factors (and I’d wager that Petrone is a couple of breathing lessons away from being a much stronger vocalist) will enjoy the variety here, which ranges from percolating salsa to delicate acoustic-guitar construction to the Paul Simon–like “Angels Above Berlin”. The session playing is excellent throughout, with props to string arranger Michael Creber’s barrelhouse piano on “What Can We Learn” and Tim Lerch’s sweetly stinging guitar on “We’re Not ‘Us’ Anymore”.