John Vento is often called a chameleon in the Pittsburgh music scene; and, while his critics may use the term as a pejorative, Vento views it as a compliment. He understands that they’re motivated by the frustration of their inability to lock him into a specific musical style. After all, the front man for the high-energy, hard-rockin’ bands, The Businessmen, and the Nied’s Hotel Band, is also known for his introspective, brooding solo recordings.
Rather than a drawback, however, Vento considers such diversity to be among his strengths; and his fans agree. They relish sharing his tumultuous trek toward achieving his artistic vision, which he accomplishes by channeling a blend of eclectic influences through his own, raw emotions.
I can’t help but smile as I read this album cover. It knows love so well. And how the hell did this thing beget to be the cornerstone of so muchness astounds me. Being human is such an adventure! And yet, something drools over into the instruments themselves. Infesting them with narratives, dramatics, soft and lust. And with a bio that slurps you in like that, and a direction to embrace… I leaned in waiting for the track to ping.
I was drawn to start with “Rainbows and Lighting”. With crystal production, professional ease, playful dynamics, and mischievous lyrics – there’s something in this track that’s pretty naked, yet dressed up like a cosmopolitan cocktail. Lacy, Perky, Real, Raw, Glimmersome, and deliciously twirlable – it flirts with the allure of beginnings.
Immediately I needed to feel the contrast with “Just Don’t Care” and that rasp as it bounces off the stereophonic. With deep masculinity, and rock n roll, wrapped in sins and reflections – the duo rips up every shred of decency. Maybe even a guitar string. In the best way imaginable.
It’s rare to find an album that takes you through every emotion like that. They either smother you in love or are responsible for wrecking your lounge. The polarity in this album creates orgasmic tensions. Will it rise or will it fall?
Maybe that’s where “let me down easy” comes in?
That’s no surprise to those who know him, as he truly is a humble, loving, and grateful person, who treasures his family and friends. Certainly, that comes across, loud and clear, in his honest, from-the-heart songs; and that, undoubtedly, is another quality which endears him to his fans. As he puts it, “If just one person is touched in some small way by one of my songs, that’s the greatest reward that I could receive.”
Of course, it’s purely logical that Vento would find a great following in this town. His steely resistance to categorization is the very essence and backbone of Pittsburgh. Built by a veritable melting pot of blue-collar workers, the once-gritty city has risen from the slag heap, through the smoke and haze, to become a sparkling, spectacular hub of culture and learning. Yet, it remains true to its deeply-forged identity.
Though “I’ll still be” is the track I want to carry with me into my day. It has fireflies.