Greg Cartwright writes songs that could easily pass for classic nuggets from the era of ’60s garage bands. As the leader of Reigning Sound, he knows how to write, sing and play a tune that stomps with fierce energy, but he also has a soft touch when the moment calls for it. Reigning Sound’s records, including the outstanding new album Shattered, also include nods to soul music and string-laden pop ballads.
Cartwright (who has also played with the Oblivians, Parting Gifts and other bands) brought Reigning Sound to the Empty Bottle on Monday, Sept. 1, and the set felt like a nonstop hit parade. Fans packed the floor in front of the stage, dancing, swaying and singing along with one song after another. The Reigning Sound lineup on the new album includes Cartwright and longtime keyboardist Dave Amels, plus three newcomers, who are Amels’ bandmates in Brooklyn soul group The Jay Vons: Mike Catanese, Benny Trokan and Mikey Post. They’re a tight unit, perfect for Cartwright’s concise, subtle rockers.
There’s something matter-of-fact about the way Cartwright performs his songs in concert. There’s plenty of passion in his voice, but he doesn’t bother jumping around and making any rock-star gestures. He just delivers the songs. And what songs they are.