Wednesday, September 30, 2009




“…Please deliver me, cause I’m falling…please remember me, hear me calling- I…I keep lookin’ round and wondering why….sometimes You seem so hard to find- And I fall behind….I keep fallin’ behind…”

Frank Rendo decidedly “delivers” in this, his 5th arresting compilation. There is a mixture of songs here; each an element of the CD that serves to create the “whole.” A myriad of styles and genres, each expertly expressed by Frank. It’s a real joy to try and describe it for you, here.

(pictured:Frank Rendo - Cover Art: Dominick Avento  III) 

It’s been a most rewarding experience for me to have been able to walk-through the process of making this CD with Frank from start to finish. I have listened to variations of these songs and have watched Frank and the team of gifted talent who has worked with him sculpt each selection and hone them to the rich, powerful songs that now comprise DELIVER ME.

I recently told Frank that I found each one of the songs seemingly better than the one before it. It’s like a circle – there is no end to the creativity, beauty and majesty of them.

Though some of these cuts were initially recorded at various other studios at different times along the way, the final touches for this CD were completed at Tiki Recording Studios in Glen Cove, Long Island, New York. Frank was surrounded by a group of extremely talented individuals as he added to, or freshly recorded these selections.

Fred Guarino, owner of Tiki Recording Studios and a gifted guitarist, masterfully & painstakingly engineered this CD for Frank. I recently visited the studio as Fred was mixing one of the selections, and I must say that I marvel at his abilities. Fred can hear things I’d never pick out – yet, because of this man and his immense talent, these important pieces are able to be heard as they blend beautifully to make the recording the best quality it can be. In part, because of Fred’s musicianship, he is adept at listening well and he knows what to listen for! But, the way he maneuvers the recording equipment to obtain the maximum effectiveness just blows me away. His talent here is sheer genius. It would certainly take more than a paragraph or two to describe things he has finessed, here. Suffice to say – he’s one brilliant engineer! Pictured above: Fred Guarino)

Musical direction for DELIVER ME was in the capable hands of Frank Rendo and my dear friend, composer, arranger, orchestrator, singer – multi-talent Palma Pascale. Palma’s creativity, her musical ability and her overall recording capabilities knows no bounds. Palma composed three of the glittering selections on this CD and Frank’s interpretation of them is stunning! Palma expertly added orchestration, vocals and a good dose of encouragement to Frank throughout the process of completing this recording.

Palm and Frank work very well together – their voices blend perfectly and together they truly compliment one another. (pictured: Palma Pascale)

Peter Eldridge is another musician who Frank’s worked with on this CD as Peter penned the title song, DELIVER ME in 1997. Peter is a renowned New York based jazz artist and a member of The New York Voices – a jazz vocal group there in the city. His website,, says this: “Peter Eldridge has been called perennially classy [JazzTimes] and ranked in the celebrated tradition of melodic poets, most famously represented by such disparate voices as Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison & Steely Dan…singer/songwriters who create catchy, beautiful tunes with insightful lyrics that are both personal & universal.” 

Peter is an outstanding jazz artist and Frank’s reading of DELIVER ME is nothing short of spectacular! I know that Frank enjoyed working with Peter, and Peter himself told me “I love the way Frank sings DELIVER ME. It was just a pleasure to record it with him.” Frank discovered DELIVER ME some 11 years ago, having heard Peter for the first time perform it in concert at the old CBGB’s in New York City. Frank had hoped one day for the opportunity to record it with Peter. (pictured above: Peter Eldridge)

Broadway actor and singer Jonathan Rayson joined Frank on the single from the CD, DON’T LAUGH AT ME.  Frank's and Jonathan's voices complimented one another and Jonathan has also told me what a real pleasure it was for him to get to record with Frank. Jonathan has been singing on stage since age 7. He began acting in Junior High and has been singing and acting ever since. He has performed both on and off Broadway, and he recently released his own first solo CD called SHINY AND NEW. Jonathan’s CD has 14 tracks to offer and he covers some wonderful selections from many well-known recording artists. You can find more information about Jonathan and his music at his website, (pictured: Jonathan Rayson)

Joining Frank on the song the two of them co-composed is vocalist and long-time friend, Mary Aulet. Mary and Frank were part of the music program at Christian City Church, New York, some 10-years ago when Mary approached Frank with the lyrics and the melody of a song that Frank composed the accompaniment and arrangement for. This duo made quite a nice writing team.

There is no lack of impressive talent on this CD. And I know they each were delighted to be a part of a Frank Rendo recording. Hmmmm……any wonder why?

OPEN HEAVEN – the invocation - A most subdued start to the collection. OPEN HEAVEN is one of the songs Frank is credited as co-composer with Tracey Cruz and Joe Cruz in 1997. A simple piano Baroque-styled intro, accompanied by a flute, leads Frank into the song where he sings:

“…Open Heaven, Angels gather round…Open Heaven, Holy Spirit, come on down. I am ready to receive – Holy Spirit, shine your light on me…”

Palma builds the song orchestrally upon Daniel Anderson’s original arrangement by adding the gutsy sound first of a church-styled Hammond organ, soon to be joined by some rich sounding strings. A wonderful vibrato is added to the organ sound as the dynamics begin to build moving towards the chorus. An electric guitar enters the mix here, really changing things up and making a full, grand sound as Frank sings the chorus, which ritards nicely while Palm adds to the regal feeling at the ritard with harpsichord.

After the chorus we are treated to a plethora of wonderful, warm, yet exciting instruments – the melody here is taken by a flute line - Frank is humming freely – a clarinet can be heard under the flute providing harmony and gorgeous, silky strings round out this instrumental verse which is full and lovely. To add to the intensity, the plucking of low strings can be detected along with the reintroduction of the harpsichord. Though all of these instruments are having their “say” and all together, I can hear Palma’s “less is more” philosophy come into play – the instruments keep out of the way of each other, not overpowering one another whatsoever; so delectably executed.

As Frank’s strong, rich voice returns on the chorus, it is punctuated with some tastefully implemented percussion, programmed by Fred Guarino. Such a dynamic is added by this inclusion. This chorus reaches a rousing crescendo toward the end; but then, as subtly as it began, Frank gently and delicately sings this beautiful melody beginning this time with the sole accompaniment of piano:

“…Open Heaven, Angels gather round…Open Heaven, Holy Spirit, come on down. I am ready to receive – Holy Spirit, shine your light on me…”

As you are captivated by the voice of this man singing the turnaround and tags in order to end the song, if you listen closely, you will note that most of the aforementioned instruments make one final statement each to add to the interest of Frank’s incredible vocal – taking each tag a bit softer, and a bit higher, with his final note being a high C, one full octave above middle C; and he hits it squarely, and he holds it for a good long while as Palma ritards to create a beautiful, elegantly executed ending behind this amazing vocal. (pictured: Frank Rendo)

And….this is only the invocation!

WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD - Turn your mind now from an almost classical interpretation of the inspirational OPEN HEAVEN to a lightly jazz-influenced, straight-ahead tune that was made quite popular in the 1960’s by the late, great Louis Armstrong. WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD is an audience favorite that Frank has been performing live for many years, now. Palma took the existing arrangement that Frank has used, and embellished it as only she can!

The feel of the song is the same triplet tempo as in the classic Unchained Melody. Frank easily captures a laid-back feeling as he sings:

“…I see trees of green – red roses too. I see them bloom for me & for you And I think to myself – what a wonderful world…”

Accompanying Frank, then, is a classic rhythm section comprised of electric piano, bass and drums. The embellishments added by Palma include the strings, which add to the relaxing feel of the song, an electric rhythm guitar, and at the same time, there is an underlying muted guitar sound of finger-plucked triplet notes. It’s subtle, but really interesting. The delicate addition of the orchestral bells punctuates the song in just the right spots. Frank shared with me that he really likes the strings mixed so that they sound the way an orchestra would naturally be placed on a soundstage. Knowing this, Fred replicated that sound with this song’s mix…the strings are mixed to the left and Palma’s electric guitar can be heard on the right. You’ll hear this many times throughout the CD.

Frank’s interpretation of this classic is impressive! It takes certain know-how to be able to sing jazz – Sinatra knew how – Buble’ knows how – and Frank definitely knows what he’s doing on this front. His phrasing – his ability to “bend the notes,” if you will, when necessary – and his overall genuine feel for this type of song is evident, throughout. It’s a comfortable song, and that comfortable, relaxed feeling is easily transferred to the listener. Though this one comes in only at 2:17, it’s loaded with character and charm. “Oh…….yeah!”

IN THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD is track 3. It was an unexpected, pleasant surprise to this writer. Written by Maria Abraham and initially arranged by Chris O’Brien from whose original blueprint this arrangement was built upon. Frank was a back-up singer on this one when he was initially involved in the 1994 recording of it.

The song is an altogether captivating one because, I believe, of its simplistic structure. Yet, there is not one “simple” thing about it you will discover as you listen to it. Starting with an intro of electric piano and guitar, along with Frank’s soft humming, we are tenderly carried into the opening lines as warm, soft strings are added and Frank gently makes this request:

“…Touch my life, Lord, with Your hands…and teach my heart to understand. Peace will fill me when I am in the presence of the Lord – in the presence of the Lord In the presence of the Lord I will be…be set free. I will be…be set free…”

Frank’s voice here is so clear, so calm, so sure, so full and rich as he sings this song of praise. There is yet a completely different feel with this one that Frank expresses seemingly so easily. He may be singing softly, but he is filling each note full to overflowing, and he makes it sound as if it required no effort whatsoever.

As he begins verse two, Frank is heard harmonizing with himself and soon Palma is joining him for a chilling three-part enhancement to this pleasing track – yet just around the corner lies another surprise from our talented friend.

There comes an instrumental chorus, complete with a smoky sounding soprano sax solo performed by Denny Sant, and accompanied by both Frank and Palma adding interspersed ooo’s and aah’s, or sometimes humming, which maximizes the effect of this chorus. Additional players include Chris O’Brien on keyboards, renowned musician and songwriter Chris Falson on guitar, Al Buonnono on bass, Alan Smallwood on keyboards, Anthony Cerebino, percussion and Peter Prianti on drums.

There is a pleasing modulation at the end of this chorus, leading into a three-part vocal repeat of the phrase:

* “…In the presence of the Lord – In the presence of the Lord – In the presence of the Lord I will be….be set free – I will be….be set free…”

Along with this beautifully repeated chorus, Frank employs his jazz chops to improvise some tantalizing phrases, which completely changes the complexion of this, until now, rather subdued piece. You will enjoy hearing Frank ‘stretch-out’ a bit with whatever message had entered his heart that he was elaborating on, here. It’s again, a place where Frank’s abilities to adapt to any style and any genre is evident. The song is superbly performed by Frank, and it showcases the versatility of his talent in a most powerful way.

DON’T LAUGH AT ME is a touching song that is the single Frank released from this CD. I heard Frank during an interview with WHLI Radio’s Paul Richards ( for his REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS CD where the two of them discussed that this was this song that Paul had once commented on after one of Frank’s live performances. Frank recalls Paul telling him how much he liked this one and Frank let Paul know that at some point he intended to record it. So, having been reminded of that during this 2008 interview with Paul, Frank went into the studio in April of this year to make good on his intentions.

Frank is joined by Jonathan Rayson, Palma Pascale and Fred Guarino on this one.

Frank is nothing less than brilliant in his vocal and theatrical delivery of this song and story. The story is one that I would guess more people will relate to than not, from some point-in-time in their own lives.

The story is a decidedly poignant one – and I’m willing to offer that many of you will, indeed, find a tear in your eyes and a lump in your throat as you listen. I say this not only because of the message of the song, but because of the raw beauty of this recording, itself – and of course, Frank’s interpretation of it.

Well, here's a thought - why not hear it? Enjoy Frank Rendo here singing, in its entirety, Don't Laugh At Me.

FRANK RENDO - Don't Laugh At Me - from his CD, DELIVER ME by Mr. Martini

DON’T LAUGH AT ME was written by Steve Seskin and Allen Shamblin for a national anti-bullying campaign called DON’T LAUGH AT ME (DLAM). The program is intended to nurture children’s emotional, social and ethical development, teach conflict resolution and foster respect for others.

This cut is resplendent from the first note to the very last one. If you have read any of my reviews of Frank’s work in the past, you already know that I believe him to have been blessed by God with one of THE most handsome, full-bodied, rich and EXPRESSIVE voices this writer has ever encountered. There is a distinguished, distinctive quality to Frank’s voice. One listen to this amazing recording and you’ll immediately hear what I mean. It is so well crafted, and sung….and it is so evidently pulled from that “special place” way deep down within Frank. The melody may not present him with a vocal challenge, yet the story, itself, demands to be sung with a love and caring that Frank easily carries out. He sings it sort of “respectfully,” if you will.
(pictured: Frank Rendo)

Palma provides the magnificent orchestration. She, too, has a “knack” to know exactly which spot to sweeten just so, and which ones can stand all by themselves. Her “less is more” application works well here. This is a skill that most people need to work at and practice to get good at. Palma has the innate ability to already “know” and can already “hear” what she wants to do. She just sits, and does it. She may make more than one pass at it, but the ability is built-in and comes across as easily to Palm as walking does to most of the rest of us. Her simple, clean piano intro sets the tone for the song, perfectly.

Add some beautiful strings here and there to heighten the intensity, and another instrument or two, and voila! Another striking arrangement.

Frank is joined on the chorus by the crisp, strong and clear voice of Broadway’s own Jonathan Rayson. Jonathan’s vocal so compliments Frank’s – they sing perfectly together, and it is obviously done with “ease.” There are people who try to duet together – we’ve all heard them – they sound as though the two voices are competing with one another, or that it’s really an “effort” to be in sync with one another. Not true in this case. Jonathan easily followed Frank’s lead and you can immediately tell there was a distinct comfort level between the two – chemistry, of sorts. Jonathan first joins Frank on the chorus, and these two are so perfectly tuned-in with each other, that they sound like one voice.

Another element to this composition comes from the skilled engineer of the song, Fred Guarino. Fred has played guitar for many years. His true passion is for recording other incredible artists…and he’s amazing at what he does behind that console, believe me. But….Fred is quite a good, creative guitarist, as well. His guitar chops are rock solid. Fred adds such nice, tasteful guitar elements to this song – nothing overdone, and his guitar is a very important piece of the whole.

Now, not only did Fred do the wonderful guitar work – it’s his expertise that provides the awesome, perfectly timed and again, tastefully executed drums! Wow! Trust me, it’s not an “easy” task by any means to coordinate these drums and do it so that the drums are not overpowering…but they must help the expression of the song along – and Fred’s treatment here perfectly compliments the work of everyone else involved.

Are you feeling the sense of all of these separate pieces joining one another to end up as one solid creation? Fred pulls the well-done pieces together and provides the grout to make all the pieces seamless.

After a modulation where Frank’s lead vocal takes on just the slightest “edge” to accentuate the lyrics, and as he does so, the most awesome set of vocal “aaahhhh’s,” almost like “pleas of heartfelt pain” punctuate just how intense the story is getting, and we hear them for just 4 very important, chilling measures.

It’s here that not only Frank and Jonathan can be heard, but Palma’s voice is added to the mix, as well. Each vocal layer floats, one above the other, exact diction in-sync with one another, and this dynamic build not only moves the story towards a climactic point – it’s just absolutely touching and oh, so gorgeous.

Frank artfully sings a short bridge – we hear a waterfall of vocal ooo’s at one point, and then….an effective pause….a SECOND modulation, and suddenly, those wonderful stacked voices are back – a bit more powerfully and even more beautiful. Once the pinnacle of the song has been reached, Jonathan and Palma’s voices are no longer…that is, Frank turns around the chorus with everyone’s voices but then he takes it out on his own, just as he introduces it – in a tender voice that tells the listener an entire story, in and of its own accord. The vision you described to me early in this process, Frank, was spot-on. The song is stunning……simply, stunning!

TO KEEP YOU WITH ME comes in as the number 5 cut, and is a hauntingly beautiful Palma Pascale composition. Written for survivors of suicide victims, this exquisite number is read so captivatingly by Frank.

“….Now that it’s final…now that it’s done – My friend, don’t you see that nobody won? Who is to say if we rewound the years – could we have dried-up all of your tears? What made you cross the line? Could I have saved you, just one more time?...”

Wow – see what I mean? Frank conveys those lyrics so carefully and thoughtfully – just as one might imagine them to be delivered if in conversation.

Starting so effectively with sounds of both harp and piano, Palma then layers some warm, smooth strings on top, enhancing both Frank’s vocal as well as the very lyrics he is singing; a touch she does SO well. An oboe accentuates one line of the lyric while a lilting flute captures another. (pictured: Frank Rendo)

“…Only one question I will repeat over and over awake, and asleep. Why did you leave us and how could this be? What could I have done to keep you with me?...”

The slight crescendo & ritard at the end of verse two leading into the chorus is accentuated by a beautifully rolled cymbal crash which adds so much to the drama of the overall orchestration.

Soon we hear a more dynamic crescendo & ritard leading into a well-timed and expertly executed modulation: Palma, Frank and Fred all have a hand in creating the orchestration here, building the instrumentation with stronger strings, French horn, more of those gorgeous rolled cymbal crashes, and more. It is truly a breathtaking point in this heartbreaking story, which continues with Frank’s moving interpretation as he sings:

“…Only one question burns in my heart…are you at peace, although we’re apart? Did you find heaven, and could it be… there was no way to keep you with me?...”

There’s a special tag line at the end that you will enjoy as you listen to this emotion-filled selection, which Frank relays to us so tenderly. BRAVO!

IF YOU COULD SEE ME NOW was written by Kim Noblitt in 1992 and is another arrangement that Frank has used for years to perform with live, and it finally gets its due on record here…it’s one of Frank’s most requested concert pieces. Palma embellished it for this compilation (Frank has, unfortunately, been unable to find the origin of the original arrangement). This pop ballad tells such a nice story, and Frank gets to be a bit creative with his vocals on it, as well.

Though there is a significant range to be accomplished when singing this one, Frank seemingly has no trouble whatsoever with either the very low or the very high notes. He again reveals a complete mastery of the melody and seems so at ease while singing it. There is a certain “mystique” that can be deduced as Frank conveys this glorious story to us. It’s a mood one can clearly denote immediately in his voice. I credit not only Frank’s theatrical training for helping get this across, but also his heart shows here, in a big way.

This one becomes highly dynamic as Frank executes the modulation, and in places his vocal intensity is abundant. Frank’s talent is unsurpassed. Magnificent!

MISSION OF LOVE is a 1:33 powerhouse message. Composed in a strikingly dark, minor key, this song sings to both challenge and despair. It comes from a two-act musical play, (J-THREE-SIXTEEN). It doesn’t take more than a moment to figure out the real meaning of the play’s title, and this song provides a perfect backdrop for that famous quote from John 3:16.

Frank sings this compelling dirge with fervor amid a backdrop of dark electric piano and shadowy strings, carefully chosen by the original musician for the recording, Joe Cruz, who is responsible for the super arrangement of this selection. Palma is also heard here, retracing Joe’s string parts for added texture & fullness. In Frank’s vocals, there is evident recognition - it’s most captivating. Frank’s upper register is used here, and every single note is precise, clear and strong. His intonation is dead-on, consistently, and his rendering of this very minor melody brings that familiar “chill factor” to the listener. Impeccably performed!

ALL I EVER TAUGHT YOU is a 2009 Palma Pascale composition. This selection has been strategically placed in this spot in the line-up as a “response” to the previous track, MISSION OF LOVE. Frank shared with me that he feels these two complement each other well, as MISSION OF LOVE is all about the despair of an individual being judged, whereas this selection teaches us all a lesson NOT to judge one another. I recall how excited Palma was when she described to me that she had written this one as she believed the message was such a vital one that needed to be heard; and of course she is so right.

The story is relayed from God, who is displeased with the hatred, evil and greed He witnesses:

“…It’s a shame you couldn’t love them as I taught you. It’s too bad that you decided something different. It’s a sin – you took the words I meant for good and turned them into judgment swords with which to pierce the hearts of man. It’s a shame you didn’t understand my meaning. You let arrogance and judgment cloud your view. I’ll be watching from above, so tread lightly as a dove, and remember, All I ever taught you was to love…”

 Didn’t I tell you? A remarkable story set to such a dazzling melody that is, again, captured expertly by our Mr. Rendo.

Frank’s vocals are so evocative…not embellished here, but delivered in a straight-forward, gentle fashion. His read of this awesome composition is perfect – and the listener is being treated to such sensitivity and warmth throughout the piece.

Dominick Avento joins Frank in creating the rich backing vocals that are heard as the second verse begins.

Now – let’s talk about the composition, itself. I think this creation is a perfect vehicle for Frank. Palma’s treatment orchestrally does exactly what it is supposed to do – enhance the vocalist’s story. I have often written that Palma is so adept at having the chosen instruments “speak” to the listener as clearly as the lyrics do. She uses an English horn at various places throughout this one – she once told me how she felt an English horn was a sort of mild sounding instrument that lends a specific quality to a song – to me, it’s a combination of beauty tinged with sadness.

The English horn takes the lead, but surrounding that is a delightful grand piano, along with guitar and soft, warm strings. Not fussy at all –yet one instrument compliments the other so well. Each one fills an empty corner, when needed, to support Frank’s handsome vocals.

There is a very dynamic modulation leading into the final verse that serves to bring us all to that next important level of intensity. I love the swirling string run Palma does, here. Frank softly and gently takes this one out as the song ritards, so as to accentuate these last, thoughtfully penned lines:

“…I’ll be watching from above, so tread lightly like a dove, and remember All I ever taught you was to……”

Such an expressive and touching composition!

I’LL BELIEVE IN YOU is the next selection, and it’s one that you will find you’ll be humming to yourself long after you’ve listened to it. It sticks with you and just won’t let go!

Performing with Frank on this one is his co-composer, Mary Aulet. Originally produced by Spyros Poulos, and recorded in February of 1997 at Cove City Sound in Glen Cove, NY. Fred Guarino and Frank produced this new version at Tiki, after Fred transferred the original from the 2-inch master analogue tape to a digital recording, which he did at Cove City Sound.

Originally, Mary sang the lead and Frank backed her up. In this reproduced gem, Frank takes the lead, and Mary repeats Frank’s original backing vocals. Even after 10 years of not working together, this one was easily revisited by both.

The song is outstanding and has quickly become a favorite of this writer. The lyric tells a story that one can identify with, and the instruments used on this one make it soulful and a real fun listen. The synthesized soprano sax makes me think of being out on a sailboat on a bright, sunny day. The wonderful electric guitar work here was added by Reuben Orshan.
(pictured: Frank Rendo)

“…In this life I find it’s harder each day to hold onto my dreams before they slip away. I want to live in peace, but a war wages within, so I keep coming back to You, time and time again…”

Does this story have a familiar ring for you as it did me? The inner struggle, the “war that wages within,” is a consistent theme throughout DELIVER ME…and I feel it is so wise to recognize that it exists in all of us. There is an answer for us to control and understand that conflict, however, as the verse concludes and the chorus begins:

“…So I keep coming back to you time and time again. You always told me all I have to do Is to put my faith and hope and my trust in You. So, I’ll believe in You with all my heart – You’ve been faithful and true, right from the start. There’s no other place to be than in the shelter of your love. Keep me in Your care, my Father, above…”

A really moving piece that both Frank and Mary give a special feel to – one that remains with the listener in mind and heart.

A ROOM IN MY HEART is a dark sounding, magnetically charged composition composed by Palma Pascale. This brooding and haunting tale of conflict had me on the edge of my seat from my very first listen, and I knew it was to be one of my all-time favorite Pascale compositions.

The song is set in a minor key to immediately evoke that darkness – that turmoil that we hear lyrically, so incredibly portrayed by Frank’s vocal. As I understand it, this composition came about from Frank’s often mentioning the various “rooms in our hearts” when doing live performances. Palma created an amazing vehicle to express the story in a bit of a different way:

“…There’s a room in my heart where nobody goes – Where the blind’s always shut & the door’s always closed. There’s a room in my heart that I don’t dare go in – It’s cold & it’s dark – I don’t want to show Him….”

Brilliant! It’s giving me chills just writing about it. It goes on:

“…If I just can pretend it’s not there – I have other good rooms that I’m willing to share If He knew what I hid in my heart...would He still love me? Would He love me?...”

By his own design, there is no intro to this one – Frank comes right in telling the story – his voice sounds as though he is truly weary - it comes across very well. He sounds apprehensive – uncertain – questioning.

The instrumental structure of this song is kept to a minimum of instruments. Palma uses grand piano – smooth strings, and a “trilled” string is used quite sparingly, which not only accentuates the piece in all the right places, but also adds incredible texture and an element of audible confusion. Wow!

As the story continues, the inner conflict continues as well, up until the well-timed modulation where, seemingly, our storyteller has made an important decision…one not easily made, yet made, nonetheless. Pictured: Frank Rendo/Palma Pascale)

In relaying this piece of the story, Frank’s tone and his inflections change immediately. There is a new command of the thought process and a determination to open that room, as hard as that might seem, because as a result;

“…He will gather me into His arms and say He loves me….He still loves me. And….He loves ALL the rooms in my heart…”

Between Frank’s reading and Palma’s arrangement, you’ll be left breathless after listening to this one!

DELIVER ME is the CD’s title track for many reasons. This 1997 Peter Eldridge composition is a tale of discord and internal struggle. The prayer here is to be delivered from such conflict and strife as one finds in their life. As I commented in my Forward, this is a most profound song, and Frank’s interpretation of it is splendid, indeed!

Peter Eldridge does the accompaniment for Frank on this, his own composition. Peter’s jazz influenced chord structure doesn’t go unnoticed. He gives us an interpretation of his piano-only accompaniment just as Frank does, vocally. Frank and Peter recorded this song live in the studio.

And…there is no question that Frank is masterful at allowing the conflict to be represented by his vocal elocution of DELIVER ME. That conflict that Frank is singing about here is evident in every single note; it makes the story come alive. He sings this with such perception – such confirmation.

The song begins with Frank singing an entire rubato, acapella verse (w/o benefit of instrument behind him), and his intonation is spot-on as Peter joins in. This first verse, showcasing only Frank’s incredible voice, sets the stage for the song both conceptually as well as interpretively. Whew!

“…It’s been said to find the Kingdom of Heav’n you must become like a child & start all over again. But, I don’t feel like a child no more – I guess I’ve seen way too much to be who I was before. I don’t know who to trust….or what to believe. How come the powerful ones got all those tricks up their sleeve? I’m hungry for truth – looking for some living proof. Something that makes sense….to me…”

Something that makes sense to me, indeed! There is such dynamic in this song – so much room for individual interpretation – the sometimes seemingly dissonant chord structure, as well as the dissonance of the message are both important and appreciated.

“…I try to be true to You, and true to myself- Somewhere between standing proud & screaming for help! I guess the best I can do is to keep hoping in You, and–hope You believe in me, with Your mercy…”

It's quite powerful, most sincere and genuine! It's…STELLAR!

OPEN HEAVEN – the benediction- I like the way Frank has taken two very different versions of OPEN HEAVEN and used them as bookends for this wonderful CD. And…this one clearly sounds like it should be the benediction. Very prayerfully sung – reverently & soft. It’s “celestial” sounding. Once again Frank’s vocals compliment the instruments, and vice versa. I love the fact that Palma adds only a “hint” of the Baroque sound in the instrumental portion, here which ties it in nicely with the invocation! The key signature of the benediction is 1 full step higher than the invocation, which, on its own, lends itself to a whole different sound.

I recall telling Frank at one point how I enjoyed listening to his tasteful ‘vocal calisthenics’ at various strategically placed areas throughout this compilation. To have such a powerful instrument as this and to be able to use it as eloquently as Frank does is, truly, a gift. Some of those ‘vocal calisthenics’ are evident in this sweetened version of OPEN HEAVEN. As I listen to this last track on the CD, I find it pulling together the entire compilation and wrapping-up the feeling of this ambitious effort quite nicely.

The theme woven throughout the lyrics and heightened by the melodies in this effort is, indeed, pointing not only towards one’s propensity toward identifying their own inner conflict, but also knowing it is He we can turn to in order to find the needed answers to resolve our conflicts and find true peace of mind. (pictured: Frank Rendo/Palma Pascale/Fred Guarino)

This compilation has touched me personally, on many different levels, time and again. Bravo to Frank Rendo, and all who participated in the making of this spectacular CD. What a gift we have been given.

“…Remember - Deliver - Me…” * Timothy J. San Paolo – 8/27/09
Photographs courtesy Palma Pascale, Frank Rendo. DELIVER ME cover design: Dominick Avento III

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