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Review: 'RUSSO, RAFA'
'This Strange Place'   

-  Label: 'Scratchy Records'
-  Genre: 'Folk' -  Release Date: '1st March 2019'

Our Rating:
Rafa Russo is from Madrid and his first shows were in New York's folk clubs in the early 1980s. The Spaniard also has a parallel career as a screenwriter and movie director .

A plaintive, desolate tone is a constant on his fifth solo album to the point that he often sounds on the verge of tears. He sings of his ravaged heart in You Crossed My Mind and laments that the "night hangs in tatters" in Throwaway Days although , paradoxically, both these tunes have fairly upbeat, driving rhythms.

His melancholic and, mostly, acoustic songs (all in English) are arranged with occasional strings and backing voices. Melodic piano refrains also figure prominently in lieu of electric guitars.

Mariana Gramunt shares the lead vocals on Windshielded Sky but otherwise it is Russo's tremulous, brooding delivery that dominates.

Lyrically, there are frequent references to bad weather and sad thoughts as if stuck in a vicious cycle frequently returning to the implicit question: 'Why does it always rain on me?'

The standout song is Empty Chair, a moving song about coming to terms with the loss of a loved one.

Although his publicists declare that his heart dwells in Laura Canyon there's little here to suggest that the Californian sun does much to lift his spirits.

Rafa Russo' website

  author: Martin Raybould

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RUSSO, RAFA - This Strange Place