Angelo Santelli – Angelo Santelli | Album Review

angelosantellicdAngelo Santelli – Angelo Santelli

Self-Release – 2014

9 tracks; 33 minutes

Angelo Santelli is a young guitarist from Michigan and this is his first release.  His nickname is ‘Skypup’ and you can hear why as when he cuts loose on guitar you can feel the ghost of Duane Allman in the room.  Angelo had a hand in writing everything here, collaborating on three songs with other writers. Angelo plays almost all the guitars you hear and also dabbles in some synthesizer and moog sounds.  Tom Aldred co-produced and plays keyboards, Tim Brouhard plays bass except on one track where Neal Conway substitutes and drums are shared fairly equally between Kenny Befus and Rick Hale, Ben Godoshian adding percussion, Craig ‘Griff’ Griffith harp and Josh Holcomb violin to two tracks each.  Angelo does not sing but there are vocals on three cuts.

The CD essentially consists of four main tunes separated by four short guitar instrumentals. “Mr Road Man” is a strong opener as Alex Mays takes the lead vocal impressively, initially over some quiet dobro and violin work but once the song hits its stride Angelo’s slide takes command with a fiery solo very much in Allman mode.  The short interlude of “Dobro Awesome” finds Angelo playing three riffs simultaneously with minimal drum accompaniment.  Craig ‘Griff’ Griffith sings and plays harp on his co-write “July Song” but unfortunately his voice is not as strong as Alex’s on track 1.  The tune has Griff’s harp in front of some pounding drums/percussion, Angelo playing the dobro parts and produce Tom adding some harmony electric guitar over some rather irritating background vocals which sound as if they were recorded in another place altogether – confusing!  The next ‘interlude’ piece reminded this reviewer of Jean-Luc Ponty albums in the seventies with Angelo’s slide soaring like a violin over some synthesizer backing. The centerpiece of the album is the extended “Nine Lives, Nine Tales” which is split into two parts which in total run nearly ten minutes.  The tune opens with a jazz-rock rhythm and Angelo playing against first Josh’s violin, then Tom’s keys, with plenty of congas from Ben and a bass solo from Tim Brouhard.  The effect is not unlike Santana in their jazz-rock period (think “Caravanserai” or “Borboletta”) but unfortunately degenerates into some strident over-playing by Angelo later in the tune.  In complete contrast “Saffron” is a pleasant solo guitar instrumental, Angelo showing us his acoustic chops in a tune that recalls Duane’s “Little Martha”.  “Griff’s Blues (Party On The Road)” co-authored by Angelo and Griff is a shuffle with Angelo in great slide form but Griff’s vocal sounds distant and indistinct.  The album closes with “Hand Clappin’ Dobro” which does exactly what the title suggests.

This short CD offers an insight into the potential of this young guitarist.  When playing Allman Brothers style slide or acoustic dobro he impresses hugely; when drawn into more diverse styles the music tends to lose focus.  It will be interesting to see how Angelo develops over the coming years.

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