Like many musicians before them, Andy Jobe (vocals, guitar) and Neeley Bridges (vocals, mandolin) have done what they can to pay the rent, including picking up gigs as NYC dog walkers. The pair, who originally met at New York University in music theory class and later became re-acquainted in 2008 while working together in Vermont on a production of Les Miserables, both began their early careers in theater.
Jobe started his professional on-stage career in 1994 at the age of 12 in the original cast of A Christmas Carol at the Paramount Theatre at Madison Square Garden (1994). A year later, he was asked to record a track for the 50th anniversary compilation c.d. for Peter Pan Labels called Children’s Songs of Virtue, in which he covered James Taylor’s version of the Carole King song, “You’ve Got a Friend.”
Neeley Bridges, a multi-instrumentalist, spent her childhood learning every instrument she could get her hands on: piano, clarinet, oboe, violin and flute. But, after pursuing a professional career in theater, she became disenchanted with the musical theater business. To comfort herself, she began using the guitar to work out her feelings, which led to the release of her solo disc Devil On My Shoulder (2008). She met Jobe shortly after and knew she had found a partner in crime.
Walking For Pennies released their debut album “Forget About Wonderland” on October 2nd, 2012. The album was recorded and mixed at Ears & Gears Studios by Mor Mezrich. Walking for Pennies has performed at The Living Room, The Bitter End, Sullivan Hall and National Underground.
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Pay attention to the depths of sounds, the varied instrumentation in the background as you listen to “I Know Better” the album opener. Lyrically simple yet powerful, this song combines a meaningful message with rich musical tapestries and great vocals by the talented Neeley Bridges.
“This One’s For Me” follows suit and instantly showcases Andy Jobe’s tremendously wide vocal range, set over a strumming acoustic guitar rhythm and some delicious harmonies.
By the time you hit the third track “Truth has Been Told,” with it’s brass interludes, you know you’re listening to a very talented duo indeed, who have laid down an intensely emotional album. All the parts are meshed and tightly in sync. The instrumental virtuosity, lovely vocal harmonies, and brilliant song arrangements are already very much in evidence.
Continuing you discover that this release is loaded with tracks exhibiting the slick and emotive Americana country-folk and pop style. Tasteful, country-tinged guitar licks, Bridges‘ crystal-clear and sensual vocal deliveries, and Andy Jobe’s mystical, introspective leanings, together with his impeccable voice, are all noticeable here.
“Forget About Wonderland,” the title track, sits just about in the middle of the album and is an absolute highlight not to be missed. Andy Jobe’s vocal delivery will almost certainly take your breath away, but this song contains many more ‘Wow’ moments. The funky and soulfully driven back-beat along with the colorful musical arrangement and melodic harmonies, are all breathtaking, to say the least. Three little words come to mind on listening to this – emotional, melodic and infectious.
On vivisecting this eight track debut album, many thoughts and reflections come to the fore. The sensual, seductive and silky-smooth ballads, the fast-paced country-tinged Americana movers, the haunting string orchestrations, the swooping acoustic guitar rhythms and sprawling piano fills, the dueling voices of exceptional quality, the sound production and mixes or the smooth and gentle crossover of styles and genres, from one track to the next.
On a whole “Forget About Wonderland” merits a perfect 10 for it’s meticulously arranged music and exquisite harmonies. The effortless blend and mastery of diverse styles ranging from country, folk and pop to sprinkles of bluegrass.
Moreover however, this album deserves a perfect 10 because it was composed and performed by the endless talents of Andy Jobe and Neeley Bridges.
A rarity in modern day music.
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