Guy Earl Wall 2023


Love epistles from Louisiana lock into the heartbeat of losses and trouvailles.

For a few years now, Guy Wall and Vince Marini have been defying the notion that all the New Orleans’ sounds share the same shake-your-feathers panache, yet their sophomore offering should challenge such a stereotype even more forcefully, channeling retro-pop-rock sensibilities with rare elegance. Of course, the album’s hour-long span may seem to outstay its welcome – only the former player’s desire to bid farewell to the latter, who didn’t live to witness “Cardiac” released, and end their ensemble’s initial era is understandable. There’s no needless sadness here, though, the duo’s melodic pieces shining enough light on these fourteen songs to bring a smile on the listener’s face before tears come and go.

And how else can it be if the reggae-smeared “WTF” – the familiar acronym standing for “whiskey, tango and foxtrot” – picks up where Mickey & Sylvia’s “Love Is Strange” left off and finds the most funny way to address familial magnetism of different fancies, with the gentle push of Marini’s bass supporting the voices of Wall and Emma Moates; if the piano-sprinkled “Find Me Again” delves into a fairy tale of emotional prospects; and if the organ-bolstered “Stand” addresses social issues of America’s recent past? However, while soul-warming opener “Thinking Of Her” flutters around a soft riff, “Friends” flaunts countrified flurries of notes, and “Love Forever” lets Ms. Moates’ dulcet pipes deliver a paean to sincerity, the jangly ‘n’ groovy “Nazareth” faces an alluringly theatrical menace of heavy metal, and “Better” shows off the band’s rock ‘n’ roll licks. Factor in the infectious chorus and vocal harmonies of “Upside Down” and the garage swagger of “Miss Right Now” which closes the album, and there’s a hot heart worn on the collective’s sleeve to see them through all the travails of here and now and allow them embrace the future.

Despite its anguish, “Cardiac” is a triumphal effort.


February 29, 2024

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