Anglo Italian roots rocker packs some muscle on his second solo album
An Englishman, long ensconced in Italy, Edward Abbiati is best known as the front man for Lowlands, an Italian band who raised the flag over there for what was still being called alt-country. They travelled the same road as Uncle Tupelo and Whiskeytown, had a slew of Paisley Underground alumni appearing on their albums and had an endearing affection for Townes Van Zandt, an endearment well captured on their 2016 release ‘Lowlands & Friends Play Townes Van Zandt’s Last Set‘.
Lowlands called it a day in 2018 and Abbiati released his first solo album ‘Beat The Night‘ to some rave reviews. Three years later, ‘To The Light’ finds Abbiati unleashing his inner rock’n’roller as opposed to the darker tones which permeated the earlier disc. The album opens with a vibrant call to arms on ‘Three Chords And The Truth’ which comes across like a meet up of The Pogues and Bruce Springsteen as Abbiati proclaims his adherence to the rock’n’roll life. It’s a bruiser of a song and the following ‘Nothing Left To Say’ rockets along in a similar vein with the twin guitars of Abbiati and Maurizio “Gnola” Glielmo allowing the song more than a hint of Thin Lizzy.
Abbiati dials it down on one song here, the reflective ‘Rags (London W12, 1998)’, a winsome set of memories lit by accordion from Francesco Bonfiglio and filigreed Dobro courtesy of Marah’s Mike Brenner. Aside from this it’s full blooded, pedal to the metal across the album. ‘Coast Of Barcelona’ has a wide vista with sweeping organ and swirling pedal steel, ‘Going Down’ opens with Hendrix like wah wah licks as Abbiati’s band loom large like a menacing gang of leather clad thugs you’d be best advised to avoid. ‘One Step At A Time’ is a rambunctious horn driven good time song reminiscent of Ronnie Lane and the closing number, ‘Love Note’, positively roars from the speakers with strings, horns and female harmonies added to the beefy band set up, a fine example of what The Waterboys called the big music. The prime pick however is a song which seems to be an obituary of sorts for Abbiati’s previous band on ‘Stairs To The Stars’. Again, Mike Brenner illuminates the song with his lap steel over pummelling percussion along with some very fine and mournful horns adding a sense of melancholy to the song.
A much beefier album than its processor, ‘To The Light’ is a brash and uninhibited slice of urban rock’n’roll.