Peter Cincotti is a name I have often seen and heard, mentioned in the same breath as singers and musicians I like. Somehow, though, I never got round to actually listening to him. For reasons I couldn’t honestly explain I presumed he would be a run of the mill lounge singer, somewhere between Harry Connick (who is occasionally marvellous) and Michael Buble (who is not).
I picked up East Of Angel Town for £1 a few weeks ago from a charity shop. I always figure that for that cost you can’t go wrong - even a couple of decent tracks and you’ve got a bargain, and if it’s rubbish you’ve made a small donation to a worthy cause. What hits you straightaway is that vocally he’s no Connick - there’s a rawness to his delivery that separates him from that school immediately, and in fact some of his vocals are double tracked to ensure he isn’t overpowered by the instrumentation. The material is also less smooth than I’d anticipated, which is a definite plus. There are no standards here, just 13 originals which, while occasionally containing a jazz inflection, have their roots in more straightforward balladry, and even in some cases rock. One can imagine he might have grown up listening to Billy Joel, while in places it’s reminiscent of Ben Folds in his more reflective moments.
He’s clearly a competent piano player, but there’s little on this album to reveal just how competent. Whether this is because he doesn’t have it or is choosing not to show it, who knows. He was only 24 when he made the album, so perhaps was anxious to appeal to a demographic of his own age - one which doesn’t want to hear jazz solos thrown into the mix. There’s certainly potential, and he’s worthy of further investigation.