Seeing Green Music

New Yorker Craig Greenberg is this time around’s troubadour piano man, combining the pop sensibilities of Billy Joel with the lyrical smarts of Randy Newman. His new Spinning In Time is living proof, offering up five tracks’ worth of haven’t-I-heard-that-before moments that manage to feel both fresh and familiar.

Production on Spinning In Time is cool – take the album opener “I’m Losing You”, for instance: with Michael Bellusci on drums and (co-producer) Roger Greenawalt on bass laying down a foundation, Greenberg takes it from there. His lead vocals and keys are placed solidly up front with a wall of sound reminiscent of Queen’s “You’re My Best Friend” in the background – falsetto vox, Brian Mayish guitar, and all. (In fact, that’s the lineup for the album, except for the closer “Turning Track”, where bassist Jimmy Riot and drummer Marc Slutsky sit in with the many-handed Greenberg.) By keeping the rhythm section live, Greenberg avoids the metronome feel that some do-it-yourselfers end up locked into.

As multi-talented as he is instrumentally (he even places sweet droplets of glockenspiel here and there), Greenberg is first and foremost a keyboardist, blessed with the ability to back up catchy intros and hooks with beautiful breaks when called for. Check out “Our Own Way”, featuring a cool hand-clap-driven rhythm that’ll remind you of Todd Rundgren’s “I Saw The Light”: when our hero’s thoughts turn to dreams, the piano comes forward to do the talking in a manner most lovely. In fact, it’s easy to imagine any of the tracks on Spinning In Time performed by Greenberg in a solo piano-and-vocals setting, but the arrangements offered here are just plain good fun as is. That’s the deal with the whole album, actually: even at his edgiest, Greenberg makes you want to tap your foot, if not join in on the chorus. Not everyone can do that.