Bruce Sudano – Talkin’ Ugly Truth, Tellin’ Pretty Lies (Album Review)

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A major fixture in cross-genre songwriting for decades, Bruce Sudano is set to release his latest album, Talkin’ Ugly Truth, Tellin’ Pretty Liesvia his own longstanding Purple Heart Recording Company on March 1, 2024. His ninth overall album, the collection tackles ideas of the past, present, and future, in subtle ways, taking up a firm position in the “now” from which it critiques and observes our human weaknesses and strengths.

Reflecting on Sudano’s most recent work, 2021’a Ode To A Nightingale took more of an overview of recent human history, interfused with a sense of hope at the breaking of a new day. This acted as a reference to coming out of the pandemic period and its divisiveness. Now with Talkin’ Ugly Truth, Tellin’ Pretty Lies, as the title suggests, Sudano jumps right into a more up-close view of human experiences, and what he finds is not always pretty.

Looking deeper into the songs, “Two Bleeding Hearts,” featuring both Sudano and the award-winning Valerie Simpson of Ashford & Simpson, is one of the brightest spots on the album. Accompanied by a music video that feels almost like being part of the audience at a small show, it handles with simplicity, but great emotion, the state of affairs when a couple have come to a stalemate and neither is quite sure how to move forward. The traded vocals between Simpson and Sudano dramatize this dialog of isolation, but also suggest a possibility for reconciliation. Furthermore, Simpson’s piano and Sudano’s guitar further suggest the two sides of the conversation coming together. That in mind, although it is undoubtedly a love song, it speaks well to the zeitgeist of conflicts in the world that seem to defy resolution.

Then there is the energetic track “Make The World Go Away”;  an early release joined with its own dance-driven music video. Another solid offering, it is a song that puts on display Sudano’s ability to articulate inner thoughts and emotional experiences in a conversational way since the song is very much one of hidden, personal sufferings. However, it is one of the most relatable tracks on the album for that reason. The positive, rising tone of the song, and the ways in which it suggests many voices sharing in this experience via the chorus, reinforces connection even in isolation.

Moving along, another haunting, but hopeful track is “Cardboard World.” Powerful, it examines up-close the ways in which caring about causes and giving yourself to the betterment of the world can demand great sacrifices. Then the narrator observes the empathy of a “radical girl” and reflects on the personal cost it demands to be someone who fights for change. Poignant guitar picking and an understated rhythm early-on showcase this idea of ‘living life unafraid.’ Yet again, it is another way in which Sudano expresses the condition of having a ‘bleeding heart’ with its darker and lighter aspects.

This is all while the title-track is also one to reckon with since Sudano often works with strong thematic elements on his albums. It is also age-old wisdom that truth is often not what we want to hear and ‘pretty lies’ are often exactly what feels reassuring. The Soul elements of this song, its resonant horns, and the unhurried storytelling about a memorable, untrustworthy character all suggest a lot about our ‘wild ride’ in modern life as we try to pick through falsehoods to find truths. Additionally, Sudano’s vocal deliveries and focus on the word ‘talkin’’ may also suggest that ‘talkin’’ is, in itself, a hollow thing, without actions behind it.

All of the tracks on the album are equally worthy of a deep-dive, and Talkin’ Ugly Truth, Tellin’ Pretty Lies brings us a dose of unvarnished reality that we probably need to confront these days. Getting to the root of the problems in the world, and developing a deeper empathy for others, requires a certain boldness and a refusal to shy away from difficult emotions. Sudano conveys that reality, both lyrically and musically, with this collection. For that reason, Cryptic Rock gives Talkin’ Ugly Truth, Tellin’ Pretty Lies 5 out of 5 stars.

Bruce Sudano talkin ugly album
Bruce Sudano – Talkin’ Ugly Truth, Tellin’ Pretty Lies / Purple Heart Recording Company (2024)



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