2011 was a banner year for the Philadelphia music scene. The War On Drugs and Kurt Vile produced some of the best alternative albums of the year and Amos Lee slid into the number one spot on the Billboard charts with his album Mission Bell. Sneaking in towards the end of 2011 was Pete Donnelly, who is best known as a bassist with The Figgs and the current lineup of NRBQ. With a balanced mix of excellent musicianship and good songwriting, Donnelly fit in well with his Philadelphia brethren, delivering a very good solo debut titled When You Come Home.
Donnelly, who originally broke into the music scene with the rock band The Figgs in the mid-1990s, has also logged studio credits with John Legend, Graham Parker, Peter Gammons (yes, the ESPN/MLB Network guy), and NRBQ. Usually a bass player, Donnelly also sang lead on every track and played bits of guitar, keyboard, and drums as well.
Leading off with the jovial “So Fine,” Donnelly begins the 14-track, 45-minute album on an upbeat note by pairing the track with the Chuck Prophet-y “22nd Street” and enjoyable “Original Wonder.” When You Come Home also displays some sonic diversity, best exemplified with the melodic beauty “The Keeping” and the random 51-second interlude of “Tommy’s Piano.” A personal favorite is the “The Only One,” which is propped up by some enjoyable keyboard licks, terrific drumming, and a simple, yet catchy chorus.
A solid rock album with a few terrific songs, it will be interesting to see if Donnelly takes this album on the road or if it was more of a brief studio venture. Donnelly will entertain a residency at the Milkboy Philly (1100 Chestnut Street) every Wednesday from January 25 to February 29. On February 1, Terry Adams of NRBQ will join in and on February 29, Tommy Stinson from The Replacements and Guns ‘N Roses will take the stage to help Donnelly wrap up his residency.