VICTOR CAMOZZI – ROADSIDE PARADISE
2012 – Volco Records
Victor Camozzi possesses a deep powerful voice but with an incredibly lazy sounding Texas drawl that for much of the album seems to grab the attention more than the actual songs he sings. It’s a shame in many ways because there are some tremendous songs on this album that ranges from slow moody ballads to mid tempo country rockers. He possesses an
excellent singing voice but somehow that accent can make it seem a little monotonous. Stylistically there are similarities with Robert Earl Keen, unsurprising when you consider they are both Texans and there are even occasions when his vocals bring to mind a countrified Randy Newman.
The strongest songs on the album are those that have a sparse instrumentation, then his vocals are much clearer so that any vocal nuances can be picked out, because they are there, just not
always obvious. I would imagine just him and a guitar playing live would be something well worth witnessing.
He is a tremendous songwriter and I will be surprised if several are not snapped up by a few
mainstream artists. Album opener Conversation hearts is a big production country rock ballad that just seems to have too much going on but is then followed by a quite extraordinary song in Marlboro
Morning. His vocals can be heard at their best on this quite gorgeous slow moody ballad that is driven by a beautifully played dobro. The harmonies are just as good, making this song for me the highlight of the album. It seems to me that the more uptempo songs also have a quite dense instrumentation and consequently don’t really suit his vocal style. Almost without exception the
slower and moodier the song and less busy the instrumentation the better he sounds, as on another excellent song The Mercy. In many ways his vocals almost seem to have too much character, which
is sometimes shielded by the busy instrumentation. It feels as if he should use someone such as Sam Baker as an example. Admittedly Baker doesn’t have any vocal range, whereas Camozzi does, but he gets over this by using talk vocals and sparse instrumentation on his powerful songs that are actually not really any stronger than Camozzi’s. Roadside Paradise is another powerful ballad with a lovely haunting steel guitar, as is the epic and beautifuly sad The Homecoming waltz. There are some gorgeous twangy guitar lines on the slow, moody Big Sierra, again, showing his vocals at their best. Of the mid tempo songs Some things don’t change is probably the best and the quirky album closer Happy new years baby, with its horns and banjo has stylistic and vocal similarities to something Randy Newman might have come up with!
An album that because of the songwriting and the songs with a less busy production is a little above average but had it been just him, an acoustic guitar, steel guitar and little else I’m pretty sure
it would have a much higher rating, at least by me. I just have that slight feeling that with less put into it this album could have gone from being pretty good to brilliant. Others will disagree; such is the beauty of music!