Sketches from the land of forefathers: former TSO guitarist draws aural imagery in mostly acoustic tones.
This Albany-born six-stringer has always been proud of his Italian heritage, but it took Mike Campese a 2013 tour through the Apennine to take in the air of the country where his relatives lived – and died. As a result, there’s no pulling emotional punches here: neither in awe and delight of the gloriously orchestrated “You Take My Breath Away” nor in the heavy strum that drives “The Quake Of Laviano” to conjure up a 1980 catastrophe in the titular village, before nervously elegiac vignettes paint new hope on the dark canvas. That’s why it’s not a gloomy gallery the listener has been ushered in, what with “Dance Of Venice” bent on infectious swirl and “Romeing The Colosseum” hiding a smile in its delicately textured romp.
While electric discharges on the likes of “Riding To Amalfi Coast” lighten it up even more to add daubs of blues to riffs and occasional vocals, for the most part Mike’s instrument is unplugged and natural on this album. Faithful to Renaissance legacy, he weaves a filigree lace on “Capriccio Di Parma” before flaunting flamenco in “Across The Mediterranean” and taking the ripple of “The Garden Isle” to the Hawaii, yet the gentle lace of “Treviso Skies” can be easily turned to metal no matter how hard Campese’s trying to escape it. And when he hits the rock in “Live Tribe” the punch is as impressively detailed, and wrapped in fusion, adding diversity to the sometimes soporific, in a reverie kind of way, travelogue. Seen through Mike Campese’s six strings, Italy is enchanting.