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CD Review: STEVE BALBI – Black Rainbow

| 8 November 2013 | Reply

STEVE BALBI – Black Rainbow
Social Family Records
October 2013
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

Steve Balbi - Black Rainbow CD

The Mad Hatter of Australian rock n’ roll, Steve Balbi has finally released his debut solo album Black Rainbow and it will come as a surprise to many.

There’s little to remind the listener of his time as a lynchpin of the Jon Stevens-fronted Noiseworks – even his own version of that band’s Touch turns it into a piano-led ballad and emphasises it’s emotional impact rather than the original’s bombast.

Balbi’s voice actually brings to mind that of Robbie Williams on Winners, From Love To Dust, Metaphor and Protection more readily than that of his Noiseworks singer, and this connection is reinforced a little by the mellow soft rock grooves herein. That’s not to say it’s shallow pop by any stretch of the imagination – any resemblance to Williams is absolutely only to the Pommy squeezer’s early, more vibrant solo recordings and not his formative boy band career or self indulgent latterday twaddle.

Sweet Sabotage is a soulful ballad with additional, ethereal vocals from Natasha Stuart which lift a nice song to a higher plateau with a haunting melody.

Moving On opens with a simple Balbi melody line accompanied only by a plaintiff acoustic guitar courtesy of Jack Jones (Southern Sons) and some subtle strings before the tender keys and minimalist percussion join in. By the end of the song Amber Mitchell has contributed a lovely vocal performance and the song has become a revelation perfectly fitting the subject matter.

The album title says as much about the music as it does about the artist himself – ebullient and positive, soaring and searching, it’s also heart wrenchingly sad, reflecting the darkness of his celebrated life less ordinary and the dead ends he found himself in. The sense of self belief in his direction is unavoidable despite the darkness, reflected on the inside cover with the quote “It’s good to be alive”.

Black Rainbow isn’t an album that will necessarily excite nor alienate fans of his previous Noiseworks or Electric Hippies work: rather, it’s something completely different – a solo album by a unique talent who has opened himself up like never before, both artistically and lyrically. Crucially, it’s good, and with his pedigree, why wouldn’t it be?


Category: CD Reviews

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