Friday, 4 December 2009

Mario Biondi - If - 2009 - Edel

I once wrote, you may recall, that Mario Biondi was 'the epitome of cool'. Well, wait until you hear this album! I LOVED "Handful Of Soul" to bits, and I love this album even more. This CD is simply essential, and fans of a fuller, richer 70s soul flavour will really, really love this album. I was blown away from the very first track, "Serenity", a massively soulful effort complete with brassy stabs, Hammond organ, dreamy vibes and wah-wah guitar. This could so easily have been recorded in the mid-late 1970s!!! Mario's distinctive, rich and intoxicating vocals tear up the joint and the instrumental bridge, crammed with funky guitar and dreamy keys, is simply to die for. Musically, "Something That Was Beautiful", harks back to Brian McKnights more laid back, fully orchestrated efforts, and Mario is more chilled - and I can actually hear him smiling when he sings. Such a mesmeric performer...would love to see this chap live. Mario shows us a fully fledged Barry White / Johnny Bristol approach with the string-laden "Be Lonely" and if you are not impressed by this then I suggest you go watch the latest general public talent show on ITV and be thankful you have appalling taste!

For fans of a '70s Jazz-fusion feel, "Love Dreamer" should sate your appetite and if you miss the bossa sounds prevalent on his previous set, or that of Arthur Verochai, then check out the sedate "Blackshop". A dinner jazz approach greets us with "I Wanna Make It" - the brushed drums and double bass make this a real lush, equatorial cushion for mario's more soothing tone. A fitting title for the following song is "Ecstasy"...a real mellow, soulful and tender ballad that really helps showcase, broaden and deepen this Singer's already mass appeal. I really LOVE his take on Julio Iglesias' "I Know It's Over" - not as great as the original in my honest opinion, but a great Latin take none the less. If you don't know the original song from Julio's 1988 album, "Non-Stop" then you MUST check it out. "Winter In America" also showcases Mario's musical persuasion well, and I have to say that though this is great, I am more taken by the sheer weight of atmosphere and passion in "Cry Anymore". This could be a Burt Bacharach composition from his 2005 really is that good! The album, the artist and everything sells itself on major, major strengths. You cannot go wrong on this album and is definitely superior - if that is at all possible - to his screamingly essential "Handful Of Soul". Enough said.

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe