It is busy at the Italian label Black Widow Records. After a couple of other releases at the end of 2016, it is now time for the second solo album of Paolo Siani. The first album Castles, Wings, Stories And Dreams was a nice debut. At that time I thought that this could be a rough diamond. So I was curious of what Faces With No Traces would bring us. Paolo Siani is drummer of the Italian progressive rock band Nuova Idea. So you can call this album also the next album of Nuova Idea instead of a solo album of Paolo Siani.
The line-up of Paolo Siani ft Nuova Idea is immense. Here we go: Marco Abamo (guitars), Ricky Belloni (guitars), Marco Biggi (percussions), Federico Buelli (sax), Stefano Cabrera (strings arrangement), Andrea Calzoni (flute), Gevorg Dabaghyan (duduk solo), Diego & Fabio Gordi (choir arrangement), Guido Guglielminetti (bass), Paul Gordon Manners (ac guitars & lead vocals), Carlo Marrale (guitars), Giangiusto Mattiucci (mellotron), Maurizio Ramera (''NUOVA ARMONIA'' choir conducting), Laura Capretti (soloist), Eva Feudo Shoo (cello), Roberto Tiranti (bass & lead vocals), Paolo Tognazzi (hammond organ), Giorgio Usai (hammond organ), Paolo Vacchelli (el guitar efx), Marco Zoccheddu (el piano & accordion) and Paolo Siani (all not mentioned instruments).
One thing is for sure, all instruments on this album are real. No samples, no synthesizers with copies of instruments etc. are used. This got me even more curious.
The album starts with One's Born A Hero. It is a modest song which opens with soundscapes from nature and Eastern instruments. After that it turns into some medieval song. The vocals are without accents, so it is easy listening. This all makes it a great opening.
Welcome Aboard is a nice rock song. The intermezzos are funny in some way. They have a weird structure and sound. Nevertheless, it's a great song.
Black Angel's Claws opens ambient-like and it reminds me a little of Pink Floyd. After the modest intro the song gets heavier. Just when you think that it's too heavy, a slow passage starts. The song is really balanced.
The album continues with Free The Borders. European pop meets Eastern soundscapes once more. Luckily it is never over the top and it stays varied. The vocals are pure and modest. This and former songs do remind me of the Dutch progressive rock band Sky Architect. All of you who like that band, give this one a try!
Rockstar is a song with a wink to the 70s hard rock scene. The whole song is heavy and could be a track of Deep Purple. Great song!
After heavy rock, it is time for a ballad called Post War Saturday Echo. In this song the band takes us all into the blues. The vibe of this song is soulful and the song has tension from begin to end.
Three Things shows the dark side of the band. It's a slow song with very dark atmospheres. The vocals are rigged with some effects.
The album ends with the song E'riu. After some church bells, a flute lays the base of this song. The song has a great orchestral part in it. This part is followed by some folk music intermezzo. This part has a comical character and it's cheerful.
Cheerful is the right word to end this review. This album is really great and it makes me cheerful.
**** Aad Bannink (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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