When I reviewed the latest release from Italian band Presence, I heard for the first time the strong voice of Sophya Baccini, a voice that we can easily compare with the beautiful voice of Kate Bush. I didn’t know that she, just like Kate, writes her own songs and plays keyboards as well. Nevertheless, she is not that talented as Kate Bush. The seventeen (!) tracks on her debut album Aradia do not always reach the same quality level as the Kate Bush discography, but that doesn’t mean that she made a weak album. That is by no means the case. The use of several instruments makes this album very enjoyable for everyone who is into the progressive rock music. Although a nice voice, a mellotron and a MiniMoog are not always sufficient for creating fine prog music.
Not only Sophya’s voice resembles Kate Bush, the music move mostly in the direction of Kate’s too. However, you can hear echoes of Jethro Tull in Don’t Dream That Dream. Special guest Martin Grice (Delirium) is responsible for the Tull sound, for his flute playing could have been done by Ian Anderson. Sophya asked several guest musicians to make Aradia a professional album. One of them is singer Lino Vairetti (Osanna). He sings a beautiful duet with Sophya on Non é L’Amore Il Tuo Destino. On Elide, one of the highlights of the album, we hear great contributions of other guest performers like Stefano Vicarelli (Fonderia) on the Moog-synthesizer, violinist Vittorio Cataldi and guitarist Franco Ponzo. The latter two also have fine leading parts on the title track, but that also counts for the excellent Moog-solo created by Pino Falgiano. It makes this track another highlight. Two Witches And Doreen is very special. Two female singers, Ana Torres (Universal Totum Orchestra) and Nona Luna (Iconea), move this song towards the musical style that we know as opera.
On the latest Presence-album, the band covered two songs from other rock bands. On her own album, Sophya Baccini did the same. She covered a track written by Jony Mitchell, probably one of her sources of inspiration. I don’t know the original version of the Joni Mitchell song Circle Game, but this one is very short and lasts only two minutes. You only hear Sophya’s voice and the sound of the ocean waves.
When I played the album in my sound system, I sometimes had the idea that I listened to one piece of music, because you can hardly hear where the next track begins. Perhaps the album is a bit too long to keep one’s attention all the way. For many people seventy minutes of music in a row is too much. It would have been better to make the album last for one hour or so. As a bonus, you can watch When The Eagles Flied on your personal computer. It is a fine poppy tune and a nice video too. You can watch Sophya in action for three and a half minutes.
Sophya Baccini made a fine debut album. I certainly didn’t expect her music to be so closely related to the music of Kate Bush, one of the greatest contemporary female singers.
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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