CD Review: Cats on Holiday “Livin’ Life and Lovin’ It”

Cleveland-based band Cats on Holiday, has seen a whole lot over the years that they have existed. That is because the band never stays with the same physical makeup for very long before the group morphs into a different incarnation. With that ever-changing style comes a history that has guaranteed that the band has constantly created music that never contained the same style or feel to it.

Guitarist and singer-songwriter Denis Devito has been at the helm of the band called Cats on Holiday for over twenty years. In that time, the band has featured a sound that bended together many different genres of music to go along with the underlying base of Rock and Roll. Depending on the time period and the current lineup at that point, the band may contain a basic Rock and Roll style, an Alternative Rock version of the band’s style, or a Zydeco-influenced sound. The current sound with the current lineup finds Cats on Holiday creating a style that feels very much like straight-out Rock and Roll.

The current makeup of Cats on Holiday has the most well-rounded sound and style of any of the various incarnations that the band has ever had. Along with Denis DeVito who plays guitar and sings, the rest of the current lineup of the band consists of: Paul Kompier (guitar, vocals), Dillon DeVito (bass, vocals), Toby Packard (drums) and Jeffrey Bowen (congas, percussion, poetry). Together, the band has created easily the best sounding (and most commercial) album they have put out thus far. The current release from Cats on Holiday is called Livin’ Life and Lovin’ It.

Livin’ Life and Lovin’ It from Cats on Holiday begins with the track “Stealing Candy”. The track features a strong Acoustic Rock feel to the music with a little electric guitar added to the mix. The result is a track that contains a rather strong nineteen seventies feel to the music. You could easily imagine this this track being played alongside artists like Cat Stevens, John Denver, even some of the lighter musical material from Neil Young.

With the next track of “Aroma of Love,” the seventies influence in the band’s sound sticks around. This time, what results is a track that contains a Soft Rock/Jazz combination in the music. This means that the track is rather reminiscent of music created by Steely Dan. “Aroma of Love” would have been right at home on AM radio back at that time when the Soft Rock style of music was just getting started. This track could have been a strong single back in the seventies.

While the first two tracks off of the Livin’ Life and Lovin’ It release from Cats on Holiday feature a hard to miss retro feel to the music, the band brings their sound closer to modern day on the track “Going Out”. With this track you can hear an acoustic rock/jazz blend that brings to mind the sounds of the Dave Matthews Band. However, there is also a little bit of influence from the acoustic side of the band Vertical Horizon in the mix of the song. Add in a little reggae flavor, and you get some idea of what the track sounds like. With that mixture, you can easily imagine this track being played on the more relaxed Soft Rock/Adult Contemporary radio formats.

As Cats on Holiday have existed for years performing what they call roots-band Swamp Pop, it should come as no surprise that there would be some music on this latest release from the band that features that Zydeco influence that has inhabited the band’s music for such a long time now. The track “Big Dick Johnson” brings out the Cajun/Zydeco feel to the band’s sound. And with that, the listener gets to experience just a little bit of what makes Cats on Holiday such a fun band to see live.

One of the very few tracks on the Livin’ Life and Lovin’ It album from Cats on Holiday that wasn’t written by the band is the track “Big Mamou,” a song that helps keep the Cajun/Zydeco feel to the band’s music going. As it is not one of the band’s original compositions, this track (originally released under the title of “Going Back to Big Mamou”) comes courtesy of the Zydecajun King, Wayne Toups, the artist who wrote the song. Denis DeVito and the band create a version of the track that keeps the original spirit of the track intact and that helps to add a lot of energy to the album. This is just like with the earlier song of “Big Dick Johnson” except that “Big Mamou” actually contains a stronger groove to it that goes along with the stronger energy level produced in the music of the song.

Getting back to the Soft Rock approach on the music that had started the album off, Cats on Holiday create the track “Every Time It Rains”. This track once again features a slow, easy pace to the music that goes along with the rather somber lyrics about a man who gets emotional each time the rain reminds him of happy times. Like the majority of the songs up to this point, “Every Time it Rains” would once again fit alongside the softer side of Rock and Roll from the seventies. This is yet another song that contains a commercial approach strong enough to have created a Top Ten single for the band if this album had been released several decades ago.

The band picks up the energy of the music with the track “Slippin’ Away”. The track takes on a stronger Rock and Roll approach in the music. The groove created by the band brings to mind a combination of styles as if one would take some influence from the Scottish band Big Country and added a large amount of influence from Tom Petty to the mix. “Slippin’ Away” is easily one of the strongest Rock and Roll tracks on the newest release from Cats on Holiday.

Wayne Toups. Tom Petty. Neil Young. These are just a few of the influences that help to shape the music found on this album. No matter which album you end up finding from Cats on Holiday, Denis DeVito and the version of the band at that point will give you a collection of music that has something for everyone. That’s just the nature of DeVito’s writing style. The Livin’ Life and Lovin’ It album is easily the strongest album to be released by the band yet.

For a taste of the music from Cats on Holiday, check out their song “Going Out“. 

To check out the Livin’ Life and Lovin’ It album from Cats on Holiday, click on the album cover below: