(Bright Star Records)
You may recall that we greeted Mauro’s rock’n’roll single release Heartbreaker with some enthusiasm. He and his partner in crime Marco Mastrocola have been out and about promoting the record at radio stations and elsewhere. Now, his album is due and from talking to the singer and instrumentalist it is a celebration really of what he loves about music. If a tuneful trip through a young vocalist and writer’s head appeals to you this project will be well worth your attention. Already he has plans to expand his established sound into new sonic territory and he has our support to count on here..
So what music does Dirago enthuse over? Broadly it’s rock and soul – but that doesn’t preclude other styles and moods. Best we take you on a JLTT track-by-track then…….
Maybe the best word to describe this artist is ebullient – we shall be bringing you a chat about his songs and his involvement with the Elvis In Concert orchestral projects. That’s the world for lead track Heartbreaker which is a dance-friendly pop-rock song with a catchy chorus and Motown backbeat and cameo from DJ Mick Brown – we’ll add the video below. The vocal delivery is kept almost conspiratorial with sweet harmony touches and some ringing electric guitar lines. Learner For Your Love would suit Cliff Richard! Or The Small Faces, even. It’s an own composition set to steady vintage rock tempo with fuzz guitar lines intertwined. The ascending bridge progression gives the song some own character and the middle eight has great axe overlay. The tempo gives it a hint of The Jam (‘Start’) which he would have heard growing up.
It’s That Beat is soft and breathy-voiced reggae, complete with Hammond figures and second-line drumming. Very Summer sunshine and a possible radio hit. Not my thing but how successful have songs in this vein been ? You could segue this with Johnny Nash or Aswad, key change and all. Once more the vocal has enthusiasm without shouting or overkill. Addicted To Fame is written by Mauro and Marco and has a Bowie-ish chattering rhythm with guitar stabs and clipped chording giving a sense of urgency. The melody is strong enough and the buzzy guitar gives the Duran touch. A good song and the added tambourine at the end thickens the beat.
King Of Kings was written by Rob Davis and Boy George and starts with a delicious electric piano with fast handclap overlay. A song that seeps into your mind pretty quickly, be warned. Could be a Culture Club lost song now found. Lovely strings and fine lyrics. Makes for a good inclusion, in a mellow Go West vein (that’s a big compliment, Mauro!)
Play For Keeps has some sonic richness in the instrumentation, here Mauro sounds most himself and his vocal is assured. A classic pop melody but I am guessing strong enough to work acoustically. One thing in passing, he is good at pitching his keys and always hits the chorus with comfort. Do It To Me is more of a stomper with Starman guitar work against Chic chatter. Not a lyric of Wordsworthian resonance but need it be ?? Maybe headed for the next soundtrack album of Fifty Sheds Of Grey or whatever it’s called….
That’s Life is not the old bar blues song of contemplation but a Dirago composition with a spacey start, very deep funky bass line, clavinet and crisp horns and complementary splashes of strings – all to an insistent beat ; Lately is all reflection and piano, maybe his regard for George Michael is channelled here ? it’s well-handled and arranged and could be sold to Tony Hadley! Slave For You has some beautiful higher-range sax – there’s a story here – playing over a lilting slightly Hispanic rhythm and a graceful vocal performance. Surely a future performance favourite….
Then there are a couple of bonus tracks, the first being an acoustic take on King of Kings which confirms its quality in a totally different arrangement ; Fever is the old jazz standard made famous by the great Peggy Lee and still in the repertoire of Petula Clark as a showstopper. The blues element is brought out here, but in a very subtle way. A female singer adds sensual appeal….had me reaching for my bottleneck! A pop-rock album with many moods, no histrionics and with melody upfront. And a set of songs that will lend themselves to exuberant stage renditions, I venture.
(Thanks Sam and thanks Mauro)
Mauro Dirago’s debut album ‘Rewind’ is released by Bright Star Records on Friday 5th May 2017.
The single ‘Heartbreaker’ is out now also on Bright Star Records.
You can watch the official video for ‘Heartbreaker’ here: http://bit.ly/2k7fLY6
For more artist info and hopefully future live dates, head to www.maurodirago.com