Whatzup
A Dozen Distractions
Distractions

by Jason Hoffman
distractions

      As advertised by the title, A Dozen Distractions, the debut album by the modern folk band, The Distractions, delivers an even dozen original songs, each one lovingly crafted to satisfy your musical cravings. Although formed a mere four years ago, the quintet have known each other for decades, providing a firm foundation in friendship as well as family. Rhythm guitarist Molly Brogan and mandolinist/guitarist/harmonicaist John Brogan are siblings, while someone is married to one of Craig Itt’s (mandolin, slide guitar) relatives (or something like that). Diane Groenert (bass and fantastic painter of whimsical house portraits who is well overdue for a whatzup article) fits into the mix somehow … I seem to have misplaced the Xerox of the family tree.

      Luckily I didn’t lose the CD or the inventively designed artwork incorporating images from Fort Wayne’s famous Coney Island. Which is appropriate, as the fun and freewheeling song “Coney” is about Itt’s favorite meal and is dedicated to the Choka family, all of which earned Distractions the right to have one of their three CD release parties at Coney Island, the first time that establishment has had live entertainment.

      Also in the whimsical department is Groenert’s “Dirty Laundry Blues,” where two slide guitar solos and gentle humor bring a smile concerning this normally tedious chore. Both of John’s contributions (“Slow Ride” and “Shining Through”) are gentle ballads filled with calming acoustic guitar parts, full vocal harmonies and memorable James Taylor-style lyrics such as “You said you loved me / And showed me the door.”

      Two excellent songs come from Molly, showcasing her strong Joni Mitchell vocals. “Sweet Woman” is a touching ode to her mother (“Sweet woman/ You’re in my soul”) with a dark melody bordering a solid folk accompaniment while “Baby, Baby, Baby” features an energetic bass line and some great 40s-meets-folk rhythm.

      The majority of the songs have been written by Itt, including the invigorating “Pray For Love,” the jazzy “I Tried” (co-written by Brogan with lyrics by Groenert), and “Maumee,” a timeless song that tells of ancestors falling in love where the three rivers meet with some astounding vocal harmonies. Speaking of which, with four vocalists trading leads, this album has more than its share of great two-, three- and four-part vocal harmonies, none of which distract from the music in any way.

      Whether you’re on your way to Coney Island or just hanging around with old friends, A Dozen Distractions is the perfect soundtrack. These 12 songs reflect years of music performed on a variety of instruments, topped with rich vocal harmonies, wonderfully able to distract you from the cares of the day. Available by contacting John Brogan at 260-740-8148.

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