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Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Venetian - I Wanna Tell You A Story

The Venetian – I Wanna Tell You A Story
2011, The Venetian
The Venetian isn’t so much a band as a force majeure.  Digging into the band’s past leads to more questions than answers.  Somewhere out there is a singer/songwriter who delights in blending the early roots of music and opera with the raw blend of rock and roll.  He is The Venetian, and his album is called I Wanna Tell You A Story.
I Wanna Tell You A Story is one of the more unusual rock operas you’ll come across.    Songs alternative between traditional Italian croon-tunes sung in Italian to forthright rock and roll sung in English.  The Italian tracks are titled as consecutively numbers Acts (“Act I”, “Act II”, etc.), while the rock and roll tracks are more descriptively named.   The tracks in Italian are well-crafted and well-sung, but I can’t comment on the lyrical content.  The rock and roll tracks represent a baroque-rock tragedy that follows the relationship of a boy with his father throughout the years of his life.
Dad is a musician, the son doesn’t understand at first why his father is gone all the time.  The Venetian takes us through the gamut of complicated emotions throughout I Wanna Tell You A Story, from the loneliness of a child who needs his dad, to the impact it has on life decisions, and to ultimate understanding as he, himself, becomes a musician.  In the end, the special bond that father and son share is through music.  They are forever connected in melody and rhyme, even if they are (meta)-physically distant in the end.
The primary rock and roll influence on the album appears to be Queen.  Particularly on tracks such as “Goodbye” and “I Wanna Tell You The Story”.  The latter even references the classic Queen track “The Seven Seas of Rhye”, in case you didn’t get the sonic similarities.  As a vocalist, the closest match you’ll find for The Venetian’s distinctive sound is Lawrence Gowan (Gowan, Styx). 
From a songwriting experience, I Wanna Tell You A Story is very much up and down.  “Goodbye” and “Dancing Angel” are tremendously vibrant rock and roll numbers while exploring disparate timbres and sounds.  The mischievous rock waltz instrumental “Soft Snow” is brilliant, sounding as if it were inspired by the Gypsy violin style of Stephane Grappelli.  “Lullaby” is the closer; where all of the son’s struggles for understanding finally resolve in a song in which he reaches out and touches the soul of his father.  It’s a wonderfully uplifting moment both in poetry and song, and draws the entire experience e together.  “My Black Cat” is also a treat, bringing a slinky, cool jazz feel to the proceedings.
I Wanna Tell You A Story has its less than exciting moments as well, particularly the middle of the road material such as “My Good Friend” and “Sometimes”, and the cheesy cliché of “My Sweet Italian Pie”. 
I Wanna Tell You A Story works very well as an early concept album for a one day rock and roll musical.  The songs are generally well-written and there is a narrative flow here that is impressive.  A true work up of this production would likely result in a couple of the songs currently here being either dropped or seriously re-worked, but as a whole the work has great potential.  The Venetian is a strong vocalist who does very well within his comfortable range.  The songs that require falsetto don’t always go as well, but he makes a fair effort.
Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

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