Echoes January CD of the Month
Tino Izzo’s Morning Scapes
Tino Izzo is a musician you may not know but you’ve probably heard his work over the last two decades because he’s recorded with popular artists like Celine Dion. But those sounds will not prepare you for the music he makes under his own name. I first heard Izzo in 1994 when we started playing Blue Desires by an artist calling himself One. One was just that: a single artist, Tino Izzo, playing everything. He started recording under his own name shortly after that but the modus operandi remained the same: lushly melodic compositions built around a lattice-like interplay of multi-tracked electric and acoustic guitars.
That’s what you’ll hear on his latest album, Morning Scapes. He says it was composed for quiet Sunday mornings, but it’s much more expansive than that, its sound reflecting his secondary influence, Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.” With cinematic landscapes laced by touches of folky Americana and electric guitar bliss, it’s a soundtrack for a cross country road trip.
You can hear the influence of Mike Oldfield in much of Izzo’s music, especially his intricate guitar overdubs and siren electric leads. The folk quality of it reminds me of Mark O’Connor’s album False Dawn, which likewise shows the influence of Oldfield. There’s certainly a touch of English folk on songs like “The Light of Other Days” with echoes of Ralph McTell’s “Streets of London.” But it’s American folk that pervades much of this music, from the bluegrass arpeggios of “Homeward Bound” to the forlorn harmonica of “Grapes of Wrath,” which rests on the bittersweet imagery of that John Steinbeck reference.
Morning Scapes is not all pastoral reveries. There is a triumphal exultance on “St. Elziar” with chugging acoustic guitar strums and slide guitar straight out of The Eagles’ “Take It Easy” that isn’t going to keep you in bed on Sunday mornings. It’s going to send you down Kerouac’s Route 66 of the spirit. “The Orange Line” recalls one of Jan Hammer’s Miami Vice vamps with a flashy electric lead and shredding melodies that turn back on themselves. He rips it up again on the album closer, “And the Sun.”
I’ve cited a lot of influences and references here for Tino Izzo, but the guitarist has created his own fusion of these elements, orchestrating a soundtrack that’s rooted in folk music and reaching towards the skies. Morning Scapes is a masterful album from a veteran who should be much more widely known.
~© 2012 John Diliberto ((( echoes )))
Hear Tino Izzo’s Morning Scapes featured on Echoes Monday January 2
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