by Tony Nesca
Word Music is Tony Nesca’s first spoken word album. Culled from his extensive collection of poems and stories, Nesca reads his work as it was meant to be represented—words as music—and plays electric guitar as accompaniment to his own work.
The words come out in Nesca’s raspy, whiskey voice as incendiary white-light/white-heat stream of urban consciousness, both lyrical and street-tough, often in the same breath. The guitar is dirty-lowdown-blues and rock-and-roll, raw, bare, gritty, passionate and intense.
Like nothing else out there, Word Music takes you through a literary rock and roll landscape ranging from childhood memories to blues bars on dingy street corners, always alive, raw and energetic.
released August 28, 2020
Written and performed by Tony Nesca.
Produced by Tony Nesca and C.S. Fuqua
all rights reserved
REVIEW FOR WORD MUSIC –
BY CHRISTOPHER OWENS FOR PENSIVE QUILL LITERARY MAGAZINE –
Christopher Owens ➨ Spoken word albums are ten a penny.
And all too often, they’re not particularly interesting. Just badly recorded readings where the writer has clearly had “a few”, and then it becomes an exercise in reimagining great writing being read by the local barfly (unless you’re Charles Bukowski, in which case that is to be expected).
Often, there are ones who understand how to work within the medium (William Burroughs, with his unmistakable voice and his choice of collaborators ranging from Sonic Youth through to Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy) but, by and large, they remain well intended exercises in self-indulgence.
Thankfully, Word Music is an exception.
Co-running Screamin’ Skull Press alongside Nicole Nesca, Tony Nesca has been writing and publishing for nearly 30 years. Working within the remits of prose and poetry, he has given us tales of people: some down on their luck, some fed up with their lot in life, some accepting of what is thrust upon them. The tone can veer from bar room wisdom, down to stream of consciousness outpouring, all with a rock n’roll flavouring.
The press blurb describes Word Music as being “Culled from his extensive collection of poems and stories…” the album allows Nesca to have the opportunity to read “…his work as it was meant to be represented—words as music—and plays electric guitar as accompaniment to his own work” as well as noting that listeners should “…make sure you have some booze and pot in you when you listen to it, it works really well that way.”
Beginning with the line “Death does not want you today”, and a midtempo blues riff that is wide enough to encompass introspection, ‘Last Stop to Saskatoon (Excerpt 1)’ throws the listener into a world that is brimming with possibilities, but also tinged with a sadness at the realisation that this world has also been the victim of gentrification.
Ostensibly about a night on the tiles, ‘The Windsor Hotel’ sees Nesca survey the surroundings while a Bo Diddley style riff (that is, dare I say, slinky) soundtracks the proceedings. It’s irresistible and atmospheric, something most records of this ilk fail at. Another notable track is the seven-minute epic ‘Bus Stop’, which is a deranged phone call with a driving guitar line that implies escape, possibilities and determination, while (ironically) never progressing.
Being the musician as well as the author means that Nesca is able to bridge the gap without having to rely on outsiders who may not be fully au fait with what he is trying to accomplish. While the stories and the delivery are tinged with an awareness and appreciation of American low-life as well as bar room fables, Nesca knows how to rock as well: the riffing on the album (blues influenced rock n roll) has the potential to blend into backroom noise if in the wrong hands, but it becomes just as essential as the poetry, so much so that it can actually be easy to overlook the writing, which features stream of consciousness style observations, commentary on the state of the world and depictions of humanity.
Combine this love of American music with Nesca’s world weary, gravelled delivery and it’s akin to Bukowski being backed by Billy Gibbons.
Word Music is proof that spoken word albums can be just as vital as books.