After cutting two albums of Beatles tunes with his band the Smithereens and a solo album of pop standards in 2006, Pat DiNizio seems to have taken an extended holiday from songwriting, a notion reinforced by his latest project, in which he interprets 11 songs from the Buddy Holly songbook. Given the bright, youthful sound of Holly's classic recordings and the dark, dour tone of DiNizio's voice, this would seem to be an odd match of artist and songwriter on the surface, but DiNizio has opened up an unexpected side of the songs on Pat DiNizio/Buddy Holly that's strikingly effective. Most of these songs have been recorded with DiNizio's voice and guitar accompanied by a string quartet, and the concise, dramatic tone of the arrangements lends them a mature tone that dovetails remarkably well with Holly's lyrics and melodies. DiNizio's covers bring a greater gravity to "Well, All Right," "Learning the Game," and "It Doesn't Matter Anymore" than most previous versions, but the songs can clearly handle the weight, and DiNizio's deep, resonant voice makes the songs sound like the classic standards they truly are. Another noted Holly fan, Bobby Vee, adds harmonies to "Listen to Me," and DiNizio closes out this disc with a rousing doo wop take on "That'll Be the Day," but much of Pat DiNizio/Buddy Holly suggests how Holly might possibly have tackled these songs if he'd lived long enough to still perform them at age 55 or 60 -- they're as beautiful as ever, but with a few more decades of life lessons burnishing the lyrics.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming