Highly promising solo debut from Canadian singer-songwriter.
How to describe ‘All Blue,’ the debut album from Toronto based artist Julianna Riolino? At times delving into old fashioned rock and roll tinged with indie attitude, occasional bursts of straight up Americana with some twang thrown in for good measure or quietly building intros that morph into something altogether more powerful.
If the songs are diverse in sound, then the constant is the vocal power that Riolino brings to each track. Even on the bigger sounding numbers, songs driven by an urgent drum or an insistent guitar riff, the accompaniment is never allowed to outdo the voice. And, when you have a voice that sounds as though it could hold its own without a microphone in a crowded bar, why wouldn’t you play to your strengths.
The aforementioned twang is to the fore on ‘Queen of Spades.’ A belter of a track, it by far the most country sounding song on the album with the pedal steel of Aaron Goldstein, who also takes album production credits, all over it like a rash. A good rash, obviously. If that is an oxymoron, then so be it. It is a dream of a track with Riolino’s vocals sounding so pure and, well, so damn country it comes as no surprise to learn that Emmylou and Dolly are long term heroes of the artist.
The first two singles released here ‘Lone Ranger’ and ‘You’ are both up-tempo, almost old fashioned in their sound, with honky-tonk piano competing with buzzsaw guitar for dominance. With these songs she is channelling something of her role within Daniel Romano’s backing band, The Outfit. Perhaps it was with this background in mind that the choice of singles was made, and the target audience identified. Favourite tracks on an album will inevitably be subjective but, that said, there are tracks that better showcase Riolino’s vocal talents. Opening song ‘If I Knew Now,’ ‘Isn’t It a Pity’ and ‘Archangel’ all sit alongside ‘Queen of Spades’ as stronger tracks with their roots more firmly planted in Americana soil whilst still containing commercial appeal.
‘All Blue’ has a number of highpoints, and these may vary according to taste, but whatever way your musical leanings take you Riolino’s vocals and songwriting talents (she wrote them all) ensure that there will be something here to appeal.