Italian sound engineer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Marco De Angelis has come full circle. After 15 years of toiling in anonymity in an isolation booth behind the knobs and sliders of mixing consoles and multitrack recorders in a variety of Italian recording studios, De Angelis steps front and center on his 2013 solo debut "The River: Both Sides Of The Story".
Multi-instrumentalist De Angelis (guitar, stick, bass, keyboards, rhythmic programming, backing vocals) has recorded an impressive collection of tunes which straddle the fence, fluctuating between cross-over prog, classic rock, pop, and adult contemporary.
Thematically "The River: Both Sides Of The Story" is a concept album dealing with the duality of life; while musically the compositions and lush arrangements are comparable to many of the Alan Parson's Project hit singles, Mike And The Mechanics, Mandalaband IV, and Pink Floyd.
Marco De Angelis is an exceptional songwriter with a real knack for constructing - 'the hook' - into each of his songs. And since this isn't a conventional progressive rock album, guitar and keyboard solos are kept to a bare minimum, used sparingly to augment the songs where needed.
And versatile vocalist Marcelo Catalano can conversely belt out a catchy arena rocker that gets the blood flowing and foot tapping as well as a melodic soulful croon to lull you into a comfortably numb dream-state.
My overall impression of the music on "The River: Both Sides Of The Story" is a melding of both Pink Floyd and Mike And The Mechanics - with David Gilmore on guitar, Rick Wright on keyboards, Roger Waters or Mike Rutherford on bass, Nick Mason on drums, and vocals provided by Paul Carrack and Paul Young. Especially on tracks like "One Love", ""Take It Away", "Our Trail Of Tears", and "Regrets".
Other influences can be detected as well including The Eagles on the tracks "Snowbound" and "Never Look Back", the solo albums of Peter Gabriel on the track "Black Stare", and a combination of 80's era Genesis and Elton John on the track "Fly High".
While it may lack the abstract complexities and head-spinning time signatures associated with the prog/rock genre "The River: Both Sides Of The Story" is an exceptional album from beginning to end with many catchy songs that stay with you long afterward.
The line-up includes: Marco De Angelis (guitar, stick, bass, keyboards, rhythmic programming, backing vocals), Marcello Catalano (vocals), Cristiano Micalizzi (drums), Desiree Petrocchi (backing vocals), Simona Rizzi (backing vocals), Susanna Stvali (backing vocals), Fabiola Torresi (backing vocals), and Sara Berni (backing vocals).
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on February 12th, 2014