Paul Arnoldi

A One Note Man

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Arnoldi's first album has the awkward in-transition feel heard in numerous circa-1966 LPs by singer/songwriters who were young veterans of the folk revival and were now coming to grips with folk-rock. What folk-rock there is on A One Note Man is pretty tentative, and while much music of this sort was charming, on this record it sounds more timid (and, sometimes, pretty ramshackle) than endearing. Arnoldi's songs and singing are rooted in the earnest coffeehouse folk style, betraying some similarities to the likes of early Bob Dylan, Donovan, and Eric Andersen in the questing introspection of numbers like "The Fallen Day" and "Happy Times." Often, though, he likes to play the happy-go-lucky good-time troubadour, a trait that's sometimes winning, and at other times apt to make you wish he'd cut down on the size of his devil-may-care grin (particularly when it gets into hokey jug band-type backup). Unfortunately, his vocals are thin and wavering, and though the amiability works to his advantage on some of the more storytelling-oriented songs, often his shaky voice is a real problem. A good singer and tighter arrangements could have made this material a nice early folk-rock singer/songwriter period piece, as the tunes are actually a little better than the average work of those in the sub-Dylan mode. But its drawbacks are too substantial to make it that desirable a rarity. Certainly the most notable song is the title cut, which the Youngbloods covered on their first album. Richard FariƱa, incidentally, contributed a poem to the back sleeve.