Paul Cargnello: The Hardest Part Is You May Never Know Review

If a harmonica, a rap, and a punk rock tempo ever collaborated in a more intriguing way than on Paul Cargnello’s “Boston Brats,” I have no guess as to what that occasion might have been. Cargnello has cultivated a reputation for sampling genres ever since his first solo record, Lightweight Romeo, debuted in 2002, picking out the elements of blues, punk, folk, and whatever else caught his ear and blending them together in an exotic cocktail of musical madness – and most of the time, it works pretty well. On his latest 12-track album, The Hardest Part Is You May Never Know, released last November, Cargnello’s teasing opening invites music brats from Boston to his stomping grounds in Montreal and all around the world to venture into his sonic enclave once more and surrender static genre classifications to fluid interpretations of musical pairings.

Following The Hardest Part’s opening assault in “Boston Brats,” Cargnello turns down the heat for “Appeal to Me,” a bluesy stomper outfitted with a brief guitar solo and featuring a brief harmonica cameo that hints of more to come. Catchy refrains sprinkled throughout “Let ‘em Leave” and “Montrealais” help the album build steam as it nears “Jim Joe”; this is where Cargnello hits his stride. “Jim Joe” kicks off with a fluttering harmonica and quickly shifts into a steady beat that reinforces the alliteration of the song’s title. Of all the elements woven into The Hardest Part, the tracks that feature harmonicas put spotlights on Cargnello’s creative song structures. That said, there’s something for everyone on this record: “Boston Brats” and “Sidewalks Curl” are ideal for punk rockers, “Rebel Architects” and “Same Old Game” are perfect for garage rockers who fancy the Black Keys and Hanni El Khatib, and “Boots Stomping” is a solid fit for the Americana bill.

Whatever genre he’s dallying in, Cargnello’s voice is strong and confident. Now 10 albums into his solo career, Cargnello has a habit of recording many songs in French in tribute to his native Montreal, though most are written and sung in English. Cargnello recently released a music video for “Squeaky Wheel,” the eighth track on The Hardest Part and the album’s first single.

The Review: 7.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Jim Joe
– Squeaky Wheel
– Boots Stomping
– Rebel Architect

The Big Hit

– Squeaky Wheel

Review by Meghan Roos

Buy the album: Amazon | iTunes

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