Adrian James Croce is an American singer songwriter with a very musical background indeed with his parents being the author and singer songwriter Ingrid Croce and his father the great folk and rock vocalist and, yes you’ve guessed it, singer songwriter Jim Croce. With such talented parents then how could A.J. be anything else? Sadly, his father’s life was cut short in a plane crash in 1973 and it seems that he has been plagued by tragedy in one form or another all of his life, and his story makes for sobering reading should you want to delve deeper in to the life of this rather remarkable and tenacious man.
Croce has built a solid and successful career as a piano playing singer in the best traditions of Billy Joel and Elton John but with somewhat different musical tastes with his truly genre crossing compositions and it is probably better to think Warren Zevon and Clifford T Ward to get a more accurate flavour of his sound. Having released ten albums A.J. Croce is equally at home with the Blues, Soul, Pop, Jazz, Country and Rock ‘n’ Roll and his eclectic tastes having, no doubt, been infused due to his long and continued exposure to some of the greatest ever American musicians over his long career and he is very much perceived as a musician’s musician. His heritage and knowledge of the ‘old standards’ has shaped his music over the years and it was a natural conclusion that he would ultimately produce a covers album and he has hand selected these songs as they mean something to him and have been friend and comforter over the years as well as his ‘go to’ songs for informal gatherings and sessions with other musicians in his sphere.
By Request is a clever title to encompass these beautifully played tracks and all are delivered with a gentle intimacy and a real and obvious love even though they have been made famous by other performers. Some you will know very well, some less so and some not at all but Croce makes the songs his own with his reverential treatment which sees them treated with respect and no great liberties are taken. A. J. Croce is a supremely talented musician and is ably supported by his touring band with Garrett Stoner on guitar, David Barard on bass and Gary Mallaber on drums and they help to make this a laid back and eclectic album. I would imagine an hour or two spent in Croce’s company would an amazing event especially if he was playing the material on this album just for you. Better Days was the first song he ever learned to play on guitar and this fine version also features some mighty fine picking guitar from Robben Ford and each of the eleven songs is just as special and delivered in such a heartfelt way.
This is one of those albums that will be sublime at the end of the day but also a great tonic in the morning and a perfect pick me in the afternoon. Timeless and serene songs combined with the beautiful and reflective voice of A. J. Croce make this a soulful balladlike delight.
By Request track list
- Nothing From Nothing (Billy Preston) (3:34)
- Only Love Can Break Your Heart (Neil Young) (3:33)
- Have You Seen My Baby (Randy Newman) (2:30)
- Nothing Can Change This Love (Sam Cooke) (2:45)
- Better Day (Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry) (2:15)
- Ooh Child (The Five Stairsteps) (3:26)
- Stay With Me (The Faces) (3:02)
- Brickyard Blues (Allen Toussaint) (4:14)
- San Diego Serenade (Tom Waits) (3:00)
- Sail On Sailor (The Beach Boys) (3:52)
- Can’t Nobody Love You (James Mitchell) (2:55)
- Ain’t No Justice (Shorty Long) (4:02)