REVIEW: Todd Omohundro — The Future is Calling (LP)
Pennsylvania native Todd Omohundro proves pursuing a satisfying musical career and paying your bills is possible. The long time public school music teacher has enjoyed a lifetime love affair with music that blossomed in 1977 when he attended a Hershey, Pennsylvania Chicago concert. He experienced a deep epiphany watching guitarist Terry Kath realizing then and there he wanted to write, play, and record music for people that brought him the same sense of joy he felt hearing Kath play.
Other mile markers along the way further shaped his musical direction. He has realized his dreams without ever falling into the “starving artist” cliché with over six thousand performances under his belt. Lessons learned over those thousands of appearances fuel his latest studio release The Future is Calling and the collection synthesizes the strands of rock, pip, jazz and other styles forming Todd’s musical DNA.
He opens the album with its title song. Chicago’s influence on Omohundro’s music runs deep in the full-throated production, horns, carefully crafted arrangements, and its polished pop sheen. It is never imitative, however. Omohundro begins the release with an insightful and mature lyric addressing the world we live in with a realistic eye. His message, though, is ultimately affirmative. The vocals have a light touch but are nonetheless convincing.
“When You Feel True Love” is, in its own way, equally serious. It moves Omohundro into the territory of pure pop, yes, but he never neglects adding musical muscle to the track. Stellar production highlights the heart-wrenching lead guitar beginning the cut and blends its assorted strengths into a coherent whole. The pacing, once the song begins, carries listeners along on a wave of energy. He doesn’t write about love with shallow light-hearted clichés but, instead, identifies the moment when you know true love as one of our lives’ formative experiences.
A simple and slightly hypnotic piano melody begins “Drowning in Content”. It’s another track much more in the singer/songwriter vein than the commercial arena. There’s no doubt, however, that song has mass appeal despite its serious subject matter. The vocal and instrumental melodies alike are among the album’s best and, once again, the production frames the song’s merits in the best possible light. It is obviously important for Omohundro to say things about our modern world and, to his credit, he does so without ever sounding strident.
“In Your Eyes” is a pop/rock gem. Omohundro and his cohorts concoct an impressively dramatic and powerful performance rating among The Future is Calling’s peak moments. It bears his name alone but Omohundro’s work reaches the heights it does thanks in no small part to the first class cadre of musicians he has surrounded himself with. The guitar playing, in particular, is spectacular. The juxtaposition of jaunty guitar and incandescent synth color starts the finale “Just Fly” off on a memorable note. Its rhythm section percolates throughout and gives it a rousing blast of life while orchestrating its numerous effects.“Just Fly” has a deliberate build but many listeners will appreciate its predictability. The joy comes in hearing Omohundro achieve the effects he wants with deceptive effortless. Perhaps music does flow out of him like it seems. The Future Is Calling is alive with the joy of creation and provides music lovers with a rich and entertaining listening experience.