Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Mario Biondi - Sun (2013)

The first essential soul purchase of 2013 comes courtesy of Italy’s Mario Biondi. His new album, Sun, produced by Mario and Incognito‘s Bluey, is as good an album as we’re likely to hear all year. Awash with strings, horns, impeccable production, timeless songwriting and that unmistakable voice, Sun delivers on the promise of Mario‘s earlier material and confirms his position as one of the world’s finest soul and jazz vocalists doing the business in 2013.
Sun plays at the intersection of soul and jazz, with enough spirit and meat on its bones to satisfy the most hardened critic on either side of the spectrum. Mario possesses one of those sing-the-telephone-book voices that enthrals irrespective of the quality of the songs. But the very good news is that Sun has an abundance of well crafted songs ripe for repeated plays.
After a scene-setting intro, the album blows the cobwebs away with the effervescent Shine On, an Incognito-fuelled dancer in the vein of Mario‘s most ubiquitous effort (the undisputed classic, This Is What You Are). Additional sterling highlights include the mesmeric Come To Me, the ethereal, Leon Ware starring Catch The Sunshine, the deeply soulful, string-swirling beauty of La Voglia La Pazzia L’Idea (my personal fave), the dance-floor rework of Stevie‘s Girl Blue (Bluey‘s presence is clearly felt here!), and the Barry White channeling vibes of What Have You Done To Me
It’s a credit to Bluey‘s growth as a producer that Sun doesn’t just sound like an Incognito album guest starring Signore Biondi (which bodes well for his own upcoming debut album, Leap of Faith, to be released in March 2013). Mario‘s imprint is deeply felt across Sun, despite a slew of high profile iconic guests, including Omar, James Taylor (from the JTQ), Leon Ware, Al Jarreau and Chaka Khan. Indeed, Mario‘s ability to integrate such luminaries into his music without sacrificing ownership of each and every song on Sun categorically affirms his position as a bonafide world class artist. 
Sun is a mandatory purchase and a timely reminder that artists don’t have to chase trends to make their music relevant. Classy, unpretentious and romantic, Mario Biondi‘s Sun is one luscious peach!

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