A Summer in Italy
2007 / Crain Records
Review by Michael Debbage
Back in 2003, Brian Crain released the sweet, simple and serene Sienna. His smooth and uplifting melodies were accompanied with the warmest synthesized strings an artist could possibly create. As for A Summer in Italy, the Italian theme is repeated as are the results by bringing to the table another banquet of delightful and romantic songs one has come to expect from Brian Crain. But is it all good news?
From a compositional point of view it is all good news. After a few retrospective projects, A Summer in Italy is Crain’s first all new material album in over 2 years and it has all the ingredients one has come to expect from Crain. The album opens with the track “Song For Rome” that is dedicated to their first born daughter, Jaime Rome. It includes one of Crain’s trademarks of creating a memorable melody and chorus that is repeatedly revisited and built upon with string embellishments bringing the song to its conclusion. This theme is repeated on the gorgeous “Midsummer Night” that opens quietly building to its conclusion then slows to a tepid pace much like the setting of the sinking sun into the horizons of Mother Earth.
Speaking of the sun, skip forward to “Sunrise On River” and while the repeated visits to the chorus are played out again, here the song has a more classical theme that Crain has been exploring in more recent years. This is even more evident via the more moody and complex “Italian Summer” that logs in at over six minutes. The same can be said for the shorter but equally multifarious song “Blue Sky Rainbow”.
The only minor problem with A Summer in Italy is that Crain decided to return to the use of manufactured string arrangements and when compared with the warmth of the organic strings of his last three discs, there is no getting around that this was a step backwards. Otherwise, Brian Crain has mastered the ability to merge memorable melodies with accessible yet refined classical themes that makes A Summer in Italy another most outstanding listening experience.
December 1, 2012
Review by Kathy Parsons