Anthony D’Amato was doing just fine making his introductions to Lexington until Mother Nature crashed the party.
The occasion was a mid-September evening at Phoenix Park, where the final installment of WUKY-FM’s Phoenix Fridays concert series was unfolding under increasingly ominous skies. Local favorite Justin Wells and Nashville song stylist Derik Hultquist had already gotten their sets in. But by the time D’Amato hit the stage, darkness was descending along with a steady rain, bringing the evening to a premature end.
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That was a shame, too. D’Amato has just wound his way through “Ballad of the Undecided,” a merry jamboree of a tune from his 2016 album, “Cold Snap.”
On Sunday, the New Jersey songsmith gets a second chance to establish a local fan base for his smart, alert arsenal of pop tunes with a Sunday Sessions concert at the Downtown Arts Center.
To compare D’Amato’s compositions to the lighter, earlier songs of Bruce Springsteen might seem overly obvious. But the parallels are there, in the lean, celebratory smarts percolating through “Rain on a Strange Roof” (an appropriate highlight of the September concert) and “Good and Ready” (from D’Amato’s 2014 album, “The Shipwreck from the Shore”), and “Honey That’s All” possesses strong traditional folk imagery but with a melodic stride that maintains the overall Jersey vibe of his music.
D’Amato was named one of Rolling Stone magazine’s “top 10 new country artists you need to know” last summer. It was an undoubtedly flattering honor but wildly inaccurate (the extraordinary indie guitarist William Tyler also was on the list). D’Amato’s musical beginnings, in fact, took him far outside of country music (and the country, in general) for studies with Pulitzer Prize-winning Irish poet Paul Muldoon. Need an idea of just how far D’Amato’s Jersey reach extends? Then check out the roster of credits to “Cold Snap.” Sitting there, with no fanfare at all, is Americana and pop pioneer Conor Oberst.
Looking for a literal crash course on the charms of D’Amato’s songs? Then check out the video for “Golden Gloves,” a dark-hued slice of power pop featuring our heroic artist getting repeatedly pummeled on the street by passersby donning boxing gloves.
Folky reflection, scholarly pop command and a smidge of old-school rock and soul — that’s the Sunday Sessions menu that he will serve up at the DAC this weekend.
What a Dive
The wonderfully indefinable pop of Lake Street Dive returns to Lexington on Tuesday. Having incorporated elements of soul, jazz and every shade of pop imaginable into their music, the Boston-bred band began making international noise with the release of its 2014 album, “Bad Self Portraits.”
At its last Lexington outing, an October 2015 performance at Cosmic Charlie’s, the quartet previewed songs that would surface the following spring on its debut Nonesuch album, “Side Pony.” Everything came full circle last week with a performance in Boston, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the New England Conservatory of Music, where the group members met.
Rachael Price, the singer with the boundless pop chops, discusses the band’s current work, “Side Pony,” with celebrated producer Dave Cobb, the tight personal and professional chemistry of the quartet — rounded out by bassist Bridget Kearney, guitarist and trumpeter Mike Olson and drummer Mike Calabrese — and more in Sunday’s Living section to preview Lake Street Dive’s performance at Manchester Music Hall, 899 Manchester Street. (8 p.m., $20 in advance, $23 day of show). Go to Manchestermusichall.com for tickets.