Praise for A History of the Boys and Girls:
…A History of the Boys and Girls draws its title from an unfinished work by the late poet and author Delmore Schwartz, who in his lifetime influenced everyone from Saul Bellow to Robert Lowell to Lou Reed. It's worth noting the disparate group of names in an effort to draw a parallel between the disparate sounds on this utterly wonderful collection of songs…"
♥ Roll Magazine. You can read the full review here: www.rollmagazine.com/archive/jun10/articles/cdreview.php
"…Donato's songs remind me of the way that Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. would adopt a childlike language and sensibility in order to highlight things that we take for granted, to isolate the unrecognized assumptions that gird our perceptions. This technique is used to great effect throughout Donato's relationship-as-creation-myth concept album, A History of the Boys and Girls. "My Decision to Medicate" sounds like Seuss (or Ogden Nash) in its rejection of the vanity and selfishness of suffering:
I made my decision to medicate / Despite the chances of putting on weight
Despite the other side effects / That have to do with sleep and sex
Given the hours and days and years / That I've lived with indefensible fears
That some would call insane / I know I must be causing pain
Unless you're in love with your anxiety / I suggest you hold the piety
If you think this pain is necessary / Explain it to your family
What is so appealing about Mark Donato's lyrics-firstness is how distinct and natural his voice is, quite apart from his physical voice. It is a literary entity. But if nature vouchsafes one gift to songwriters, it is in the other dimensions where they most show their resourcefulness. Donato's troubled vision of adulthood goes down smooth in the rollicking, tuneful ease of his sound."
♥ The Woodstock Times.
You can see the full article here:
…"A History of the Boys and Girls", a lyrical and epic recording spanning the history (from the Garden of Eden) of "the boys and girls" inspired by the Delmore Schwartz title. The tale is fraught with moments of epiphany and sadly, moments of doubt and despair. It is not so much the battle of the sexes as it is the intermingling of the psychic and emotional needs that are the typical fabric of most relationships. In the beginning, we indeed do have "everything" were we able to keep life from happening to us. How one copes (or doesn't cope) together (and apart) is the story Mark unfolds in this ode to love, misery and being "just this side of normal". It's a beautiful record and is wonderfully "head in the sand" given the ongoing ruminations about the demise of the album. Please listen!"
"Mark Donato is a smart (but not eggheady!) songwriter from
upstate whose new album, I Haven't Wasted All This Time
Alone (Rag and Bone Shop), is alternately sweet, witty
♥ Time Out New York
"For Donato, never-again relationships, never-to-be loves,
imminent death, and the unrepenting music industry are what
great songs are made from. Especially when they are presented
with a dash of Caribbean pop ("Moods of Extreme Desire") and
country-tonk charm ("Caretaker")."
"Infirmary Ball" is a classic in waiting."
♥ Daily Freeman (Kingston)
"A singer-songwriter musically exploring the liquid labyrinth
of life's existential jar of half-sour pickles...fraught with
around-the-corner perspectives and rhythmic wit... And isn't
that what alternatives are all about? "
♥ Woodstock Times
"An unflinching yet sympathetic look at love, work, and memory,
this wry singer-songwriter's appealing latest batch of songs,
The Old Joy, is like an arm around your shoulder during
hard times...delightfully droll country rock."
♥ Richard Gehr, The Village
"This is folk music in that you sense this singer/songwriter
calls his parents 'my folks.' But it resembles rock and roll
in its scope, pop music in its feel, and literature in its
character development…he sounds like someone genuine and gentle
enough to be misplaced in our mad scramble for the latest
world-weary glamour boys…Perhaps we don't deserve a CD this
good. Let's hope I'm wrong. "
♥ Hanh Tu Phuong, CUPS
"On the surface, (Donato's) debut engages because its odd,
ever-morphing textures, just like Harry Smith's anthology's,
remind us that folk music was once remarkably strange...Beneath
the surface, couplets like "I dreamed my father told me I
caused his heart attack / He said my life was empty and he
deserved to have his back" remind us that his songs don't
just sound interesting."
"…vocals that oft times evoke the phrasing of Holy Modal Rounder
Steve Weber or the cracked sweetness of the Grateful Dead
(Weir or Garcia I'm not sure), and there's the oddball lyrics
that evoke the fractured short stories of Barthelme (Frederick
or Donald I'm not sure)…"
♥ J. Salamon, The Village
"Donato's debut is like listening to a set drawn from the
most droll Bob Dylan, the humblest Elvis Costello, and the
youngest Randy Newman."
"…deserving music makers in full possession of Dylan's proverbial
head-full-of-ideas-that're-driving-them-insane like Mark Donato
and Life in a Blender and Death Cab for Cutie and Very Pleasant
Neighbor who couldn't even get their discs into shops…"
♥ Camden Joy, author of
Boy Island, The Last Rock Star Book and Lost
"One of the best songwriters around."
♥ John Flansburgh of They
Might Be Giants, in reference to M.D.