Demos Papadimas. Wanderin’ through the Wilderness.
Self-released, 2013. Demos Papadimas: http://www.demospapadimas.com/
About every twenty minutes, somebody comes along who’s been labelled the “new Bob Dylan.” Demos Papadimas is one of them, and there is some resemblance, both positive and negative. However, there’s a lot more there than that facile comparison suggests. I think he’ll weather that storm, and move on. Recently listed by Cleveland Scene as one of their “13 Bands to Watch in 2013” (http://www.clevescene.com/cleveland/13-bands-to-watch-in-2013/Content?oid=3119729), along with various other accolades, he’s certainly on the move. Based in Howland (that’s near Warren, for all you Clevelanders who don’t have a map handy), Papadimas got his start in New York City clubs, and in touring the East Coast. He’s also lived in Europe, traveling and writing songs, good credentials for a singer-songwriter. Papadimas lists his influences as Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Woody Guthrie, Gypsy music, and Greek Rembetiko.
His new CD is a 12-pack of mostly short songs, which vary considerably in style, but all (except the instrumental “Minore Tis Avgis”) are held together by his voice, a good, strong, clear tenor, heavily reminiscent of Mr. Dylan when he wants it to be, but he can also sing differently. The Dylan imitation is most evident on the first and fourth tracks, especially “How Long” where he’s in full harmonica. On other songs, he sounds more naturally himself (I guess it’s him). He also does impressive Americana tunes (“Oh Persephone,” “If I Had Religion,” “Wasted Days”) that sound more like Guthrie or some of the Lubbock, Texas guys. Where he differs from most is in songs with tango, Cajun, and Greek influences, which are refreshing and unusual.
“Barrier Doors” is where he begins to change things up, with accompanying tango rhythm and violin. The lyrics, as with most of his songs, deal with sadness and disappointment (although some speak of travel, probably to get away from sadness and disappointment). The Cajun influence is found in “Winds Foul and Fair,” a spritely tune that doesn’t fit the sentiment of the lyrics, sending a mixed message. “Poor Boy Blues” (the only non-original) throws harmonica on top of some bluegrass, and is the most rocking tune on the album. Papadimos’ own roots show up in the last two tracks, the Rembetiko instrumental, “Minore Tis Avgis,” and “Weary Words,” a solid ballad that tops off this fine album. I’d have to say that my favorite tracks are the last and “If I Had Religion,” both strongly featuring his voice, his playing, and his band’s abilities.
After listening to this CD three times, I find I like it more each time. Papadimas’ songs started to stick, and now I can’t get them out of my head. I suspect that’s a good sign. He’s got a show coming up next month in Kent. Check him out.
Personnel: Demos Papadimas (vocals, resonator and acoustic guitars, harmonica, bouzouki), Brian Dozoretz (upright bass, tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, 12), Ethan Jodziewicz (upright bass, tracks 5, 6, 7, 8, 9), Dana Billings (drums), Laurie Hart (violin, tracks 2, 3, 4, 5, 7), Rosie Newton (violin, tracks 1, 8), Bob Alexander (accordion, tracks 3, 6, 9, 12), Harry Aceto (mandolin, track 9).
Tracks: How Long?, If I Had Religion, Barrier Doors, Double Knots, Wasted Days, Winds Foul and Fair, In all the Years, Poor Boy Blues, Oh Persephone, Wanderin’ through the Wilderness, Minore Tis Avis, Weary Words.