CD REVIEW: Planetary Nights - Today Aint' Too Late
By: Cyrus Rhodes
Planetary Nights (featuring R.J. McSweeney)
Classic Rock, R&B, Jam Band
New York based singer/songwriter R.J. McSweeney releases his third CD entitled Today Aint Too Late in 2012 via his musical project called Planetary Nights. His band features an impressive line-up with R.J. (lead vocals and guitar), Kelley Looney (bass), Rob Thomas (keys and Phil Cimino (drums). The CD was dedicated to Joan and Jane McSweeney. on a personal note: this latest release was dedicated to Joan and Jane McSweeney.
The CD kicks gets off the ground quickly with “Embers” a smooth intro piece that serves up easy flowing rhythm against catchy melody line, impressive solo guitar licks and well placed vocals from McSweeney. Track 2 the title track keeps thing moving in the rocking direction with its passionate vocal delivery from McSweeney against driving rock rhythm, well placed vocal harmonies making for a rocking follow-up statement. Track 3 “Harmony” is another impressive rock ditty that serves up full tilt rock rhythm against impressive low end groove, thought provoking lyrical content and a grand slam of a chorus. The CD makes a great first impression dashing out 3 solid songs in a row. The musicianship of everyone involved is clearly above the bar. I would classify this music as Classic Rock, R&B, with brief touches of classic Jam Band. Along the way you will notice lush instrumentation with things like impressive Percussive accents, well placed Horn sections, slamming Saxophone, Hammond Organ chops, sizzling solo guitar, keyboards and Piano and lush harmonies layered everywhere. As this CD slowly unfolds its obvious the players in Wolfe’s band are quite accomplished. The rhythm section pushes the natural accents well. What I like the most about this band is how well they seem to groove together, testament to top flight experience and hundreds of hours of rehearsal time no doubt. Now turning our attention over to McSweeney - as for his vocal abilities, he holds his own within the confines of this catalogue well. It’s fair to say McSweeney doesn’t have a world class vocal ability – but he pulls it off well and it’s obvious he’s comfortable in his own skin. I suspect some of his vocal influences are classic Van Morrison, Eddie Money, John Cougar, Boz Scaggs, Bog Segar, and even Bruce Springsteen just to name a few. All songs are well crafted and consistent musical experieinces across the board. This CD from Planetary Nights delivers 14 solid tracks all providing musical enjoyment filled with strong musical variety and diversity. This catalogue personifies the life experience with high highs and low lows of life itself. From heartfelt “Ghosts in my Mind” to rock steady “Mocha Jaydene”, “Evangeline” and “Together” to melodic “Rollin’ On Again” to upbeat “Breeze” this CD has something for just about everyone. There are a few passionate moments where McSweeney bares his soul: “Comin’ on Home”, The Secret” . The CD ends with Track 14 “Infinite Embrace” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.
It’s had to find any serious weaknesses with this CD. The overall sound of this catalogue has all the trademarks of a musical production highly popular in the late 70’s and early 80’s .Perhaps R.J. should modernize his overall sound just a tad. All songs over 4 minutes tend to drag you to the finish line – perhaps trim up the catalogue by 20%. I don’t like how Track 6 ends. I know this is a subjective art form but many of the aforementioned issues do affect the CD’s overall marketability.
From start to finish Today Aint Too Late" by Planetary Nights is an impressive collection from start to finish. The songwriting – all consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair, and signature grooves. Note for note, song for song there isn’t really weak piece on this entire catalogue. The writing and playing abilities of R.J. McSweeney and his amazing band are rock solid. The melodies are catchy, the harmonies are well crafted and the lyrical content covers wide range of emotional latitude. Last but not least the vocal presence of McSweeney is simply infectious. Like a drug - you can’t help but get sucked-in, and you can’t wait to come back for more.