Like all works of music, there are always going to be some you absolutely love and some you only like. “Contagious Emotions” by Steve Sperandeo one is going on the absolute love list. Steve has added some jazzy, bluesy touches in this album, while maintaining a soft organic-rock style made of elegant guitar work and graceful melody. It’s a masterful blend by a thoughtful musician. But be forewarned, Steve’s music needs more than a single playing to fully savor its nuances. So grab a drink of your choice, sit back and enjoy the storytelling as Steve Sperandeo delivers 11 unhurried and deeply resonant songs.
Steve knows how to make a long playing record, and which buttons to press. A lost art in the digital download age. Throughout it all the guitars, piano and rhythms are measured and tasteful, mirroring his clear, understated drawl.
Singer-songwriter die-hards will adore every twang and crooned note. “Contagious Emotions”, they would doubtless agree, is the best kind of adult contemporary sound. An album at pains not to reinvent the wheel, but instead to give the audience exactly what it craves.
“Contagious Emotions” precisely the opposite of everything modern music exemplifies. Steve Sperandeo fills our nostalgic buckets with melody, harmony, organic instrumentation, and arrangements that don’t fit into a formulaic commercial box.
From the moment he opens the album with the poignant “Junkie”, waves of strummed acoustic guitars and intimate storytelling inebriates the senses: “Your momma don’t love me, and you daddy’s a junkie. Your brother’s suicidal, and your sister quotes the bible.”
It’s many an artist’s dream to be able to produce their work, unfettered by the constraints of commercialism. This is the happy situation that Steve Sperandeo finds himself in, and it shows in the beautiful and bittersweet glow of the slow-burning ache of “For Ann”.
Steve turns up the tempo a notch, on the sweeping groove of “Love Me Crazy”, but it’s on the slower cuts like “Forever” that he is absolutely superlative. The reason simply being, Steve Sperandeo has a poised but relaxed way of singing lyrics, as though he were telling you a story across the flames of a campfire.
This is perfectly illustrated on “Nothing” – a poignant song that draws you into its silken embrace, before you even realize it – and the fiddle-inflamed “I’m Going Insane”. In an industry presuming loudness and digital compression, it comes as no surprise that an artist like Steve Sperandeo fancies the warmth of a dynamic recording, which is displayed in all splendor on the expansive “Tell Me Why”.
“Love Me” is a beautiful piece, and just an outstanding song. Steve throws down lines like, “Love me. Learning how to love me. Spending so much time, just wondering who I am. Once I learn this basic fact of life, then I can learn to love you.” Total introspection, and chill guitar work dominate this song.
The album proceeds with more mesmerizing tracks – “Luvox” and “Alone In His Chair”, allows Steve to unravel the gravelly top-end of his vocal range, before closing the show down with the catchy “21 Grams”.
A blissfully journey from start to finish, “Contagious Emotions” is a showcase of Steve Sperandeo’s Homeric ability to weave a fine tapestry of vivid story-lines over a lush fabric of beautifully haunting music.
Each of these songs perfectly displays Steve’s gift for melody and, above all, rarely does his voice, or the instrumentation, wander off on a tangent. Everything is always constructed with the intent of adding something to the song, rather than simply displaying skills. This is an impressive and consistent trait throughout the album.