Mina Caputo – The Mones (Album Review)

The hard rocking Mina Caputo recently rolled out her latest disc, The Mones, on November 12, 2020 via her Bandcamp page.

Caputo is literally a woman on fire! As the vocalist for the legendary Alternative Metal outfit Life of Agony for the past three decades and counting, Caputo has steadily built a name for herself with her ferocious spirit as well as her ability to reach into the depths of her listeners’ souls with her music. With sixteen diversely influential albums—not including demos, live records or EPs—to her credit, she has honed her skills while sharing international stages with the likes of Coldplay, Nine Inch Nails, Björk, David Bowie, Slipknot, Foo Fighters, and many, many more. 

What’s more, Caputo is not afraid to explore new musical territory, as is evidenced by releases such as 2008’s A Fondness for Hometown Scars, 2013’s As Much Truth as One Can Bear, and 2016’s Love Hard. So why quit now? Continuing to place her powerful mark on new terrain, Caputo presents The Mones. Co-produced with the Grammy-nominated multi-instrumentalist Andy Kravitz (Billy Joel, Cypress Hill), the 12-song LP is heavy with Caputo’s unfiltered emotion as well as her fervent compassion. No matter how bleak the landscape, she offers a beautifully sincere romanticism to her poetic works.

In its first moments, The Mones carefully travels through dusty desert back roads as Caputo slips into some silky Americana. With twinkling guitar work setting the pace for “California,” she seeks to leave her New York blues behind and find the healing sunshine and sweetly cheeping birds of the Golden State. This nuanced calm continues into the retro psychedelia of “She” before the talented singer-songwriter offers up the shimmering, languid groove of “Single Leaf,” which pulls elements from both its predecessors.

Still befitting of the chill mood, but switching it up, “Holding Up This Fall” goes for a delicate Indie Pop feel with its ambient electronics providing an anchor for Caputo’s meandering vocal performance. The flow continues to be flawless as she then picks up the pace for the entrancing rocker “G.L.O.M.S.” (“Got Living On My Side”) and the collection’s standout, “Summer in Wolf’s Bean.” With its spelling guitar work and Fishbone’s John Norwood Fisher on bass, as well as a Country influence, the Indie rocker juxtaposes genres to perfection.

Next, like a ballerina spinning inside a music box, “Phyllis” builds to delicate guitar melodies and a retro feel as it lures listeners back to simpler times. But Caputo is quick to jar us out of any complacency with the stony psychedelics of “TV Babies” as she channels her inner Jim Morrison. Meanwhile, still forcing us to stay on our toes, she explores the many moods of “Released,” then takes a delicate breath on “All the Wild Horses.”

With the end approaching, Caputo allows the beautiful sonics of “P2 (I Need You)” their moment in the spotlight as they perfectly complement her emotional longing. Ultimately, however, she opts to end The Mones with the catchy acoustic rocker “Brand New Skin,” a candid jam session—featuring Rick Boston of Joe Cocker’s band on bass and piano—that, despite the previously explored struggles, still manages to offer up infectious smiles. In this, Caputo brings her latest offering full circle, providing that glowing ray of sunshine that ends the collection with hope, rather than despair.

In short, there is still a pervading sense of the New York blues in Caputo’s heart, but she fights to find the California sunshine in her soul on The Mones—and we want that for her. Coupling her genre-bending with dark allure, the talented front-lady serves up a collection that feels grandiose and cinematic, worthy of a David Lynch flick, yet still deeply intimate and full of incendiary passion. So categorize it as you like, because Caputo’s latest is a perfect representation of a woman who has never allowed herself to be placed inside a box. For all of this, Cryptic Rock gives The Mones 4 of 5 stars.

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