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Baldassarre — Grand Boulevard
((Not on label) no#, 2023, 2LP / CD / DL / USB)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-06-14

Grand Boulevard Cover art

Sometimes a great band passes near your musical trajectory, catching your interest, then they just disappear. Such was the case with Cleveland, Ohio based Syzygy; they started out as Witsend, released one album as such, then two excellent studio albums as Syzygy — The Allegory of Light (2003) and Realms of Eternity (2009). They capped it off with an excellent live CD+2DVD package recorded in 2008 and 2010 (released in 2012) titled A Glorious Disturbance, then silence. I often wondered what happened to those guys, and about a month ago I got a partial answer, at least regarding the guitarist Carl Baldassarre. Even before that aforementioned live album was released, Baldassarre was tiring of the life of a starving musician, and realized he had skills in other areas like business and finance, a path which he followed for several years. But around 2015 he realized that his true calling was music, so he began to pull back from the corporate world and rededicate himself to composing, playing, and as a music educator. His music now encompasses far more than strictly progressive rock, in fact his latest offering, Grand Boulevard (there are a couple others before this one), is something of a calling card that demonstrates the vastness of his capabilities, including rock, pop, blue-eyed soul, jazz, and more, on which he has assembled an all star cast of performers including vocalists Marcus Scott (Tower of Power) and Charles Iverson (of the alt-pop trio Iverson), bassist Dave Martin, drummer Nick D’Virgilio, and keyboards, piano and programming by producer Phil Naish. Opener “You're Gonna Be Right” is a late-70s styled post-punk riff rocker that pushes all the right buttons, not unlike something by Nick Lowe or the late Tom Petty, replete with the expected catchy hooks. “Dead Ballet” swings back and forth between new-wavey pop and aggressive guitar riffage, with a scorching guitar solo. “Ready Fire Aim” takes on a loose, jazzy indie-rock John Mayer-like feel, while “Simple Song” is a perfectly arranged catchy pop number that’ll get stuck in your head for three days. Other standouts include the catchy pop-rocker “Another Day,” the lushly orchestrated pop number “Gin with Alice,” the middle-eastern flavored “Sands of Tarifa,” and the aggressive hard rockers “The Reckoning” and “You’re Wrong (Dead Wrong).” In fact, one could almost say that across the album’s sixteen cuts, there might be too much diversity from one track to the next, but that said there really isn’t a bum track on this album anywhere, it really is an exceptional production, with great songwriting and arrangements throughout. It’s worth mentioning that in addition to being available as a double LP, compact disc and download, it’s also available on USB in a package that looks an awful lot like an old fashioned cassette, where one can find all the files in WAV, FLAC, and mp3-320 formats.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Nick D'Virgilio (NDV), Carl Baldassarre

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