"Hidden Symphonies" is a new pop album by Marco Joachim. More than a year in the making, it was Marco's second outing with producer/arranger/multi-instrumentalist Jon Gordon. Featuring layers upon layers of guitars, synths, sound design, string and horn arrangements, the CD was a labor of love for both artist and producer, with a big tip of the hat to influences such as Jeff Lynne and Paul McCartney. Hidden Symphonies also features Joe Mardin on drums, a crack string quartet led by cellist Jeanne LeBlanc, and a horn section led by Aaron Heick.
Envisioned as a concept album, Hidden Symphonies brings together well-crafted, catchy melodies and lyrics, with musique concrête influenced intros, endings and transitional pieces. From the colorful psychedelic cover painting by May Ann Licudine, we know we are in for an adventurous sonic experience.
Marco is an eclectic songwriter, with an enduring love for many genres of music. Marco's previous two albums "Changing Times" and "Songville" had been firmly based in the realm of folk and Americana. However, while in production for Songville, Marco and producer Jon Gordon discovered that they both shared a deep affection for the pop music of the 60's and 70's- British Invasion bands such as The Beatles, as well as the soul and classic rock of that era. Stimulated by working together on the McCartneyesque song "Dream Away", a vision started to form of the album that they wanted to make next. Hidden Symphonies is that album.
Marco Joachim runs the full gamut of emotions on this CD: The mysteriously titled opening track "And When The World…" finds Marco building on the tradition of peace songs á la Lennon, but with a more modern, Oasis-like feel. Nice harmonies and bursting guitars make this one jump.
"Nameless", performed to a string quartet, is an ironic commentary on suburban life that is touching and yet sarcastic, sung in a sincere McCartney style that evokes the Beatles "Revolver".
The rockin' "Cellophane Sue", complete with Stones-like horn section, Penny Lane baroque trumpet, and capped with a wacky, exuberant guitar duel by Gordon v. Gordon, is inventive.
"Dominoes" evokes a British Invasion take on rockabilly, with stinging, twangy guitar riffs and Jordanaires-style harmonies, propelled by Joe Mardin's definitive train beat.
Marco's vocals can summon melancholy memories, yet with surprising results, such as in the dreamlike "Gramercy Park": Evoking the city sights and sounds that Marco grew up with, Gramercy Park starts as a sentimental ballad, sung in a sidewalk cafe during a rainstorm. From there it wanders nimbly through vaudeville, klezmer, Beach Boys-like vocal harmonies, an ELP style synth fantasia, a horse race, segues into an Elvis send-up, and, through a guitar cadence that would be right at home on Let It Be, winds up back in the sidewalk cafe.
"Those Days" is a nostalgic tour-de-force, complete with Harrison style guitar solo, Phil Spector castanets, and an infectious twist-beat-and-hand-clap chorus. It also gives a nod to the Beach Boys in the richly voiced, rhythmically contrapuntal backing vocals.
"Things You Do": A vaudevillian soft shoe flows forward into classic rock. The message, an "I-told-you-so" poke at a karmically challenged girlfriend, is delivered delicately, in the form of pure pop fun with a cool guitar solo.
In ballads, such as "These Days Of Winter" and the gospel influenced "Hidden Symphony", Marco displays a winning gentleness and sensitivity in his heartfelt singing.
Completing the album are: "Angel Eyes", a blue-eyed soul rave-up featuring a horn interlude reminiscent of Sam & Dave, and "Restless Love", a pop tune with a hint of middle period Billy Joel, plus some very idiosyncratic use of vocoded guitar and wah-wah lap steel by Jon.
Hidden Symphonies was co-produced by Marco and Jon Gordon, who also wrote the string and basic horn arrangements, and plays inspired guitar throughout. Longtime musical friend, producer and ace drummer Joe Mardin brought great energy, feel and taste to the drums, bringing the whole project to a new level. There are even Hidden Symphonies if one listens carefully. A must have.