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Doracor - Lady Roma CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.78 | 42 ratings

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RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars In his thirteen years of activity as a prog musician, Corrado Sardella seems to have learned that one-man bands, no matter how gifted one can be, will hardly ever be able to replace a real band in terms of overall quality. Luckily, over the years the number of guest musicians employed by Sardella has steadily grown, and some of them (like guitarist/violinist Riccardo Mastantuono and vocalist Milton Damia) have become steady presences on his albums. On "Lady Roma", Doracor's seventh studio album, one finally gets the impression of a real band, not just a collection of hired hands (even if talented ones). This time, in particular, there are no less than three drummers involved - a vast improvement over Sardella's previous use of programmed drums.

As the title implies, "Lady Roma" is meant as a tribute to the Eternal City of Rome (Sardella's home town, as well as my own), represented on the cover as a beautiful woman. In spite of that, I find that it does not sound as distinctively Italian as other recent releases from Italian bands. Rather than the legendary Italian prog outfits of the Seventies, the main sources of inspiration here seem to be bands like Genesis, Camel and Marillion. Obviously, the trademark Mediterranean lushness can be perceived at times, and there are other (though few) elements that anchor the album to the Italian musical tradition: the Italian-language lyrics, as well as Riccardo Mastantuono's occasional use of the mandolin (one of the mainstays of Italian folk music).

Since Corrado Sardella is first and foremost a keyboardist, it will not come as a surprise that the album is quite strongly keyboard-oriented. However, all the instruments involved in the recording of the album work together smoothly and seamlessly, as reflected in the open, airy nature of the music. Nothing here sounds jarring or overly complicated, and the tracks blend into each other with a pleasing, natural flow, at times uplifting, at others somehow tinged with sadness for things that have gone forever - an impression compounded the autumnal beauty of the pictures featured in the booklet, such as the breathtaking, lavender-hued shot of St Peter's Basilica at the twilight hour.

The album's title-track, a mini-suite in four movements, is introduced by a passage recited by the soothingly deep voice of Daniele Si Nasce (known in Italy for his activity as a one-man tribute to Roman-born singer-songwriter and showman Renato Zero). The lyrics, written in the Roman vernacular, are a nostalgic paean to 'vanished Rome'; the combination of Mastantuono's lilting mandolin and Sardella's tinkling piano lends an endearingly folksy quality to the tune. The rest of the suite is more along vintage symphonic prog lines, with clean-sounding guitar and broad keyboard sweeps in classic Genesis mould, and excellent vocals by Milton Damia. The vocalist shows more of his considerable range and expertise in the atmospheric, sax-infused, blues-tinged ballad "Vento dell'Est". The somewhat darker, spacey instrumental "Roma dei Misteri" opens with faint mandolin strains, then turns into a pulsing synth riff lifted out of Rush's "Subdivisions"; while the short "Imperium", featuring Marillion's Ian Mosley on drums, is a heavier, synth- and guitar-driven piece with a solemn organ introduction. On the other hand, the neo-prog influence is quite evident in the romantic, keyboard-led mid-tempos "Testimone la Luna" and "Questo Folle Girotondo".

As a whole, "Lady Roma" is a classy package, further enhanced by Milton Damia's stunning vocal performance. Though it does not offer any really ground-breaking ideas, it is nonetheless a well-rounded, well-crafted offering, which fans of classic symphonic prog, as well as neo-prog, will not fail to appreciate. Hopefully Corrado Sardella will manage to keep this group of top-notch musicians together for his next recording efforts.

Raff | 4/5 |


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