Francesco Marras - 'Black Sheep' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     July 09, 2013    
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Lovingly crafted to be savoured and enjoyed by fans of good hard rock music.

Francesco Marras is a new name to me, but he may be known to some of you as the guitarist and main creative force behind Italian metal band Screaming Shadows. 'Black Sheep' turns out to be Marras' first solo instrumental album and shows himself to be a gifted guitarist with a real feel for song structure and melody, who doesn't need to resort to showing us how fast his fingers can go, to prove us how good he is...well most of the time anyway. He does get carried away with the fretboard pyrotechnics on occasion, particularly on 'Straight Victory' and 'We Are One', and these are by far and away the weakest cuts on the record. The latter even goes to a fade out while he's still gamefully widdling away, which is never a good sign. These transgressions aside, Marras has a nice clear, bluesy tone to his playing.

The title track kicks things off in fine style with a real funked up rock vibe, where Marras plays off the syncopated rhythms of guest drummer John Macaluso. 'Hope For Tomorrow', on the other hand, has a classic AOR structure and a sumptuous melody that would hit the stratosphere with the right vocal. 'Here To Stay' is a bit more free form that threatens to get a bit self indulgent but is pulled back from the abyss by some glorious mid-song guitar, drum, bass and keyboard interplay. 'The Joker' turns up the heat and rocks a bit harder with Marras peeling off some fine blues licks before launching into the best track on the album 'Elvis'. No this isn't, as the title suggest, some rock n' roll bluegrass song dedicated to "The King". Instead, he lets rip with all the blues and swagger bluster that you would associate with modern day Whitesnake. 'Miriam', 'Too Hard To Say Goodbye' and 'Running Round In Circles' settle into a melodic rock groove, where Marras rings every bit of emotion out of his guitar at every opportunity before the soaring melodies of his song to his homeland of 'Sardinia' brings the whole thing home.

This isn't an album aimed at guitar technicians. No, it's been lovingly crafted to be savoured and enjoyed by fans of good hard rock music. For that it has much to recommend and is well worth checking out.

Alister Strachan

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