For nearly 30 years, Bruce Sodano has been better known for being Donna Summer's husband than for having been a member of Alive N Kickin' in the 1970s or for being a gifted singer-songwriter in his own right. But with Life and the Romantic (Purple Heart), Sudano proves that his 2004 album Rainy Day Soul was no fluke.
He also proves that Bob Carlisle's 1997 smash "Butterfly Kisses" was not the last word in paternal "adult contemporary" pop. Indeed, Sudano's latest single, "It's Her Wedding Day," sounds a lot like a Butterfly Kisses, Part Two. "I know that it's time," he sings of his daughter's upcoming wedding atop a bed of gentle piano and swelling strings. "Still, letting go's not easy / when you've held her all her life."
"It's Her Wedding Day" is one of the album's two "daughter" songs (the disc-closing "The Amazing Amanda Grace" is the other). In fact, thematic song pairings occur throughout the album. "A Glass of Red and the Sunset" and "Beyond Forever" challenge people "busy bein' busy" in pursuit of the corruptible to recalibrate their inner engines in the interest of eternal pleasures. "Turn Me On/Off the Hook" and "The Sweetest Thing" remind those same rat racers that marital romance is chief among those pleasures.
There are also two songs in which Sudano's faith comes to the fore. In "Morning Song" he identifies morning praise as a key ingredient in "liv[ing] by grace and walk[ing] by faith." In "Rainy Day Soul" he paraphrases Pascal ("There's a hollow place in all of us / that longs for the Spirit of God") before concluding with Romans 8:31.
Meanwhile, the sleek, jazz-lite instrumentation that Sudano skillfully employs to coat his musings functions like spoonfuls of sugar to help the medicine go down.