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Single Review: John Vento “That Damn War (Father & Son)”

Roots rock singer songwriter John Vento is back with the latest single from his epic “Brick By Brick” album release.  It’s a tribute to fathers everywhere in “That Damn War (Father & Son).” It’s a heartfelt song delivered with a touch of anger, as John recounts tales of his own father and how his experiences with war tainted his relationships with his family.

Musically it’s a very sparse song. It’s light on instrumentals with only an acoustic guitar accompanying John’s gravelly voice. It works to the song’s effect, allowing the vocals to standout more than they would have with more layered instrumentals. There’s a light percussion added by the end and some vocal layering, but it’s otherwise very toned down.

John’s delivery is the main highlight of the single. Like any good emotional song, it’s performed with sincerity and genuine emotion that can only come from experience. Once again, the sparse and stripped back production really adds to how impactful the message comes across, for the better. John’s voice carries pathos and character, giving it a unique and distinct quality that separates it from most Americana and Gospel singers.

Of course, no good storyteller is complete without well-written lyrics, and “That Damn War (Father & Son)” doesn’t skimp out on that end either. Between recounting the happy memories John shares with his father, he also straight up maligns how the Vietnam war changed his father, turning him into the shell of the man he once was.

It’s all delivered with a twinge of anger, not aimed towards John’s father, but directed squarely at war and the effect it can have on families everywhere. It’s a very real problem that many people face, and one that isn’t all too prevalent amid the anti-war songs that tend to pop up more frequently.

The climax builds up to John opening up his father’s old tackle box, only to find his Purple Heart within it. It becomes a symbol of John’s anger as the percussion builds up, truly showcasing the singer’s resentment for what the war had done to his father and ending the single on a high note.

As a father of three and a supporting mentor to new and veteran musicians alike, it’s clear John takes his responsibilities as a father very seriously, and it’s no surprise why. We’re excited for what else the Pittsburgh-based artist has in store for us in the future, and we’re eager to see what comes next.

–Jason Airy

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