Paradise Is Free

Rome 56

Independent release, 2024

REVIEW BY: Conrad Warre


I listen to as much music as I can, most often in the car, where there are fewer interruptions and I can turn the music up loud. While I may love the tunes, rarely do I hear something that makes me think, “I wish I wrote that.” Paradise Is Free is that rare album.

With 12 original songs produced and composed by Artie Lamonica of Rome 56, Paradise Is Free is destined to make every other musician and composer feel a twinge of envy. Never heavy-handed or in your face, every song on my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Paradise Is Free is a masterpiece of musical assemblage. Balanced, compelling and catchy without being condescending, the album is pure music. There are no self-indulgent solos, no animalistic distortions or exaggerated overdriven fuzz pedals—every note is played thoughtfully and from the heart. Rome 56 employs acoustic guitars and piano to create a primed canvas for the band to layer their commentary and illustrate Artie’s articulate lyrics. The tracks are mixed deliberately so that every instrument is distinctly audible, and positioned perfectly to make space for each voice when needed.

Artie Lamonica produces, writes, sings and plays the guitar, and was a main songwriter for the 1970’s Brooklyn-based band The Shirts, who played at CBGB’s in New York. Hilly Crystal, the owner and main booker for the club, booked The Shirts as a regular opener for acts like the Talking Heads and Television, until they themselves became the headline act. Lamonica composed the single “Tell Me Your Plans” which charted in the top five in the Netherlands. The band achieved greater success in Europe than in the United States, mainly because of lack of support from their record label Capitol Records, and they essentially disbanded in 1981. Rome 56 is Lamonica’s second-to-none second act.

Paradise Is Free contains a slew of songs that will stick in your head like musical super-glue. You’ll want the first cut “The Man Behind The Man With The Gun” on your playlist. It’s on mine. Other standout tracks include “Seattle” and “At The End Of The Street,” but every song on the album reveals a perfect balance of instrumentation and vocals. Artie’s partner Kathleen Lamonica lends her beautiful harmonies and rock solid keyboard chops to give structure and grace to this gorgeous release. Give a listen and see if you experience the same twinge of “I wish I wrote that” envy.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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