Bernie Chiaravalle - The World Around Me (2011)

Bernie Chiaravalle

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At times it seems like there is no place in modern music consciousness for the acoustic pop singer/songwriter.  While artists ranging from James Taylor to Dan Fogelberg to Paul Simon dominated radio for portions of the 70s and 80s, outside of a few current outliers like John Mayer, pop music is now the captive of mega-producers, heavy electronics and ever present autotune.  So it is more than nostalgic to hear an album like Bernie Chiaravalle's The World Around Me; it is a reminder of how powerful pop music can be when it combines strong lyrics, hooky melodies and a lot less clutter.

At times it seems like there is no place in modern music consciousness for the acoustic pop singer/songwriter.  While artists ranging from James Taylor to Dan Fogelberg to Paul Simon dominated radio for portions of the 70s and 80s, outside of a few current outliers like John Mayer, pop music is now the captive of mega-producers, heavy electronics and ever present autotune.  So it is more than nostalgic to hear an album like Bernie Chiaravalle's The World Around Me; it is a reminder of how powerful pop music can be when it combines strong lyrics, hooky melodies and a lot less clutter.

Chiaravalle has spent more than two decades as guitarist in Michael McDonald's band, but he has also kept his own separate career alive as a solo artist.  And his music bears far more resemblance to the California acoustic pop of the 70s than to the soulful vibes of his work with McDonald.  Fortunately for listeners, as on 2005's Mystery of Love, all comes together very nicely on The World Around Me.  Chiaravalle wraps his Gerry Rafferty-like voice around an attractive mix of ballads and midtempo numbers (and even a couple of bluesy turns) to create a strong argument that there are still excellent musical alternatives available for adult listeners, regardless of what radio programmers think. It's kind of odd to think of a straightforward album like World as being countercultural in 2010, but it is. And a very enjoyable twist from the culture, at that.

Notable Tracks: No Way Out, The World Has Let You Down, Long Haul, What I Knew Before, No Longer In My Dreams 

Vocals: 3.0
Lyrics: 3.0
Music: 3.0
Production: 3.0
Soultracks call: Recommended

By Chris Rizik 

 
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