The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Gra­ham Strahle Tony Hil­lier

Breathe Gal­liano Som­mav­illa In­de­pen­dent “Master of chill” would be a fair way to de­scribe pi­anist Gal­liano Som­mav­illa. A well-known fig­ure in Mel­bourne’s pi­ano bar scene, he has played for a long time in ho­tel lob­bies, bars and restau­rants. For 15 years he tick­led the ivories at Crown Mel­bourne’s Atrium Bar, but since that gig ran dry he has in­creas­ingly turned his at­ten­tion to com­pos­ing. His new­est ef­fort, Breathe, still in­hab­its that same chic, im­per­sonal world of the cock­tail lounge, but el­e­vates it al­most to an art form. Don’t be sur­prised if you de­velop an un­easy love af­fair with this mu­sic. The con­stant, un­vary­ing drum­beats, flat­tened dy­nam­ics and waft­ing melodies barely raise a rip­ple and im­me­di­ately dis­close Breathe as back­ground mu­sic. How­ever, this al­bum is so highly crafted that it be­comes in­fec­tiously lis­ten­able. Within the scene that he works in, Som­mav­illa nev­er­the­less cre­ates a tune­ful and so­phis­ti­cated lan­guage all of his own, some­where be­tween ur­ban grooves, cheesy pop and soft jazz. The al­bum ti­tle is not to be taken too lit­er­ally. The nine in­stru­men­tal tracks cruise se­dately down the slow lane, with Som­mav­illa him­self noodling around in­ven­tively on pi­ano, key­boards and synth pads. Breathe In and Breathe Now have an at­trac­tively mild, laid­back groove that is only let down by very man­u­fac­tured-sound­ing synth strings. Breathe Once More is a busier, funkier track with kick drum, power bass and an elec­tric gui­tar solo from Joey Amenta that re­ally cooks. Wail­ing sax in Just Breathe and pangs of sad­ness in Breathe Out sug­gest life sto­ries that go deeper than mere chill, while Breathe Again closes with an­other as­ton­ish­ing gui­tar solo from Amenta. Jeep Chero­kee Laredo, they ex­ude earthy blues feel be­fore an earth-shak­ing cli­max. Slide gui­tar and har­mon­ica give One and the Same a coun­try slant. Tanya sings Here is Where the Lov­ing is At over Ap­palachian banjo pick and fid­dle licks. Shim­mer­ing pedal steel en­hances poignancy in It’s Not Over Yet and Lit­tle New Bern, both ten­der clos­ing bal­lads that build to soar­ing crescen­dos.

The War and Treaty will be a must-see at Bluesfest 2019. In the in­terim, Heal­ing Tide will un­doubt­edly be vy­ing for the ti­tle of 2018’s soul and Amer­i­can roots al­bum of the year.

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