Katarzyna NINa Górnisiewicz
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Gianluca John Attanasio - Silent Roads |House of Clouds Records, 2016|
1. King Money, 2. Black Forest, 3. In The Club, 4. I Lost My Angel, 5. God Save Every Soldier, 6. Baby Up Baby Down, 7. Sacred Flight, 8. The Life Will Continue, 9. Living In My Blues, 10. Miss Dog, 11. In The Morning, 12. Silent Roads, 13. Time Is Over
The new album of Gianluca John Attanasio took 3 years to compose during his travels between Rome, London, New York, and Los Angeles. Not only did he write music for independent cinema, theatre, and the dance scene, but also composed, arranged, and produced music during the last 15 years. This is clearly audible to careful listeners experiencing any of the tracks present on Silent Roads
Thirteen brand new tracks offer a blend of many genres - blues, psychedelic rock, rock ballad, or even hip hop. All are united by the lead singer's confident and somewhat raspy voice.
'King Money' brings a typical blues feel and expressive, well trained vocals. Both arrangements and composition keep the classic tone here and, therefore, will be loved by the sound purists. The rocking vibe provided by the bass and drums is additionally contrasted with the higher-reaching harmonica. 'In The Club' is also a track that fans of The Blues Brothers may dig from the very beginning - the odd (but fitting) addition being psychedelic organs. The chorus is extremely memorable thanks to various repetitions and the overall melody. 'Black Forest' is kept in the same vein - swinging sounds just as easy to remember. Vocals, synths, and bass are accented mostly at the beginning, while the guitar and drums take over a bit later, collaborating nicely when the chorus appears. Skillfully written arrangements allow for vocals to be either highlighted by instruments or shine on their own.
Attanasio's admiration for The Doors is obvious in two of the thirteen tracks. 'Baby Up Baby Down' shows it through the use of a synth (perhaps even the famous Moog) and improvisation-like arrangements, perfectly placed within the song. Even if the singer's voice is rougher than Jim Morrison's, it matches the guitar driven musical explorations, from blues to metal. 'Silent Roads' carries the subtle, magical vibe of the iconic 'Riders on the Storm', bringing along a hefty dose of synths. There's a lot of motion in the background and the vocals are matched with these arrangements very well.
As for the ballads on the album, 'I Lost My Angel' is a track suitable for a slow, romantic dance for two, thanks to its melancholic vibe carried by guitar, bass and drums. The other half of the song includes a slightly vibrating guitar solo and a subdued synth. 'Living In My Blues' is kept in a homogenous mood, though its tone is more swinging than that of 'I Lost My Angel', with the guitars accented more strongly at times. Vocals appear frequently and are on par with all the other instruments. It's highly recommended you listen to this one with your eyes closed.
'God Save Every Soldier', as the title suggests, is a tribute to those who have been sent to fight for peace. The song includes a really surprising melody change - with the unexpected arrangement sounding more electronic, including a minimal dose of deep techno bass and a slightly faster beat. It makes the track sound less epic, though the overall mood is peaceful.
Move over, synthesizers - it's time for the piano. 'Sacred Flight' brings piano arrangements with the accompanying lyrics delivered by Attanasio's down-tuned voice, sounding more intimately than in other songs. When it comes to the atmosphere here, hope and drama keep interlacing. The piano arrangements continue in 'Time Is Over', but the style is that of a pop/rock ballad - similar to something you would hear on a Foreigner or Elton John record. The romantic atmosphere is expressed with additional samples of rainfall and subdued thunder, mostly in spots where the vocals take a break. Furthermore, it's easy to imagine 'Time Is Over' being performed by an all-stars crowd at a fundraising concert, bringing back the spirit of the 80's and Bob Geldof's & Midge Ure's Live Aid
While the piano took over for 'Sacred Flight', guitars get to rule across 'In The Morning'. Instrumentally, it's still kept in an acoustic mood, but it's more rock-oriented, akin to Eric Clapton's music, with the vocals recalling those of Billy Joel. 'The Life Will Continue' has a warm vibe, but the accenting bass and drums take it into rock territory, with a high-pitched guitar soloing in the background, letting the synths and Attanasio's voice be more expressive. The song's production is a bit different, perhaps due to some additional ambiance surrounding vocals and guitar, as if they were recorded live on stage, and later mixed and mastered.
At the opposite end of the musical spectrum presented on the album we have 'Miss Dog', offering a complete change of instrumentation, mood, and style. It contains a lot of skillful borrowings from hip hop and modern pop music, utilizing a faster, danceable tempo and somewhat graded vocals. The lyrics are quite ironic though, referring to the idea of how the hip hop scene uses sex and women as their major song-writing inspirations. 'Miss Dog' may become a steady hit on air if offered to the right broadcasters.
Clearly, Gianluca John Attanasio recorded the album with a lot of moodiness in mind, rather than expressive dynamics. There are clearly emotions at play here, but performed rather retrospectively, with reflection trumping reaction. The native Italian has a very good American English accent additionally increasing the music's warm vibration.
Lyrically, Silent Roads
touches many topics - from an inner journey into the self, discovering emotions, learning from karmic (romantic or erotic) relationships, a dash of loneliness, but also expressing support for soldiers. Since the album is a trip into the blues rock of the 1960's, it's highly recommendable for listeners of all ages who prefer well developed, unhurried tracks coming from the heart.
(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, April 26th, 2016. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)