Galliano Sommavilla – Light And Shade ‘The Colours Of The Piano’

 Galliano Sommavilla – Light And Shade ‘The Colours Of The Piano’

Galliano Sommavilla – Light And Shade ‘The Colours Of The Piano’ – Album Review

Always a pleasure to listen to this man play.

While it’s true that any musician’s career will reveal peaks & valleys over time, the vast majority of what we’ve heard from Galliano Sommavilla over these past three years has always sounded inspired to me.  Certainly included in that assessment, the opening track of his new album Light And Shade called “The Colours Of Caravaggio” was a gorgeous start to his latest audible odyssey.  You can take that opinion to the bank and cash it folks, because it’s not just my own – the moment I started playing “The Colours Of Caravaggio” last week when I got this new record from Sommavilla, my wife shouted from her office beside me over-top of the music to say “that’s really pretty” and inquire who it was.  She’s right about so many, many things y’all…and she definitely picked up on the right qualities of this first track on Light And Shade – “The Colours Of Caravaggio” is an exceptionally beautiful song.  Galliano’s piano-playing flows as fluidly as water, and the inspiration seems to pour right out of him.  Using his ‘in the moment’ method has always led him to incredible results, and this track is a prime example of how that works – you can’t listen to a song like this and not acknowledge how present Sommavilla is at every moment of it, you know what I mean?  There’s no disconnect here, there’s no wasted space whether it’s filled by notes or its not…he’s right there, feeling the music, and as a result, so too are we.  “The Colours Of Caravaggio” is a wonderful start to an album…to the point where you’ll wish they all started this way.  Not just his own, but like, all records out there.  This is the right way to entice people into listening – it’s beautiful when it’s delicate, it’s dazzling when it’s intricate, but more importantly than anything else, it reveals Galliano as present as ever, sparkling & shining with an irresistible first song on Light And Shade.

If you’re a true fan of the piano, I’m tellin’ ya as directly as possible, don’t miss out on this man’s music.  As the album shifts into “Distant Blue Skies,” you can hear the dreamer in this guy as he plays.  Beyond impressive, this track feels like you’re sitting there staring into the wide open space above, just thinking about life and all that comes with it.  There’s a very reflective type of peace that comes along with a song like this…external on Sommavilla’s side as he’s willing to share it with all of us, and also internalized for us as we listen and give this instrumental tune our own meanings.  At nine minutes in length, I gotta say, I love hearing this man play huge tracks like this when he’s in the gear he’s in right now.  Like I said, we all experience the ups and downs of our creativity, in our art, in our work…in life…things come and they go, right?  Right now, you can tell by track two on Light And Shade that Galliano is currently at his inspired best, and as a result, we’re hearing some seriously fantastic material from the guy.  From his remarkable technique, to his inherent gift for melody, the guy is making some of that truly magical time-stopping type-music…from the most intimate moments of “Distant Blue Skies” as it starts out so spare and sweetly, to the more robust & bold moments as it heads towards the end around the seven minute mark, you gotta admire the focus he applies to his music and how much he gets so very, very right when he plays.  He’s definitely one of those artists that proves it’s not just what you play, but how you play it.

Not only do careers have ups and downs, but records have a life cycle that’s much the same.  When it comes to a professional with the skills and talents the likes of Galliano, believe me when I tell ya, it’s much more of a reflection of our own personal tastes than it has anything to do with him, you follow me?  Like “Sahara Green” for example.  Great tune in its own right without question.  Do I love it as much as I love the opening two tracks on Light And Shade?  No…but there’s no reason to take any points away from a composition like this just because the melody of a song moves us in a different way – that make sense?  “Sahara Green” is one of those tunes that feels more thematic and/or theatrical…like it’s almost meant to be a part of something even larger than what we hear, but in more of a supporting role to enhance some other kind of art…I suppose that’s what I’m saying.  I’m not suggesting it doesn’t hold up or stand alone as a song, it does – but I’m here more for the man’s more melodic side of sound I guess.  “Sahara Green” is arguably more of an adventurous track in that regard…it’s filled with wonder and fantasy, curiosity and mystery…all combined together.  No complaints from me when it comes to the quality of Sommavilla’s execution, and as there always is in his music, there are multiple points along the way that’ll take your breath away whether it’s his technique, his instincts, or his gift for composition.  Chances are, it’ll be all of those things combined.  Sommavilla is one of the best instrumental artists out there in the scene today, and a genuine master of the piano.  He also knows how to make a record that offers a lil’ something for everyone…where the first two songs speak to me, “Sahara Green” might speak more clearly to you…that’s the whole nature of the game.  We like what we like, and love what we love.

It’s the kind of thing you tune into.  When you listen to any artist or band long enough, you somewhat know what you’re looking for, or more accurately, what you’re listening for.  I hear a song like “Black Naturals” start up, and I can instantly hear that this one is closer to what I look for in Sommavilla’s music personally, you know what I mean?  It’s more along the lines of what we experienced with those first two tracks at the start of Light And Shade, at least as it begins.  If anything, this is where the real genius of Galliano shine brightest, because I’d likely tell ya that “Black Naturals” eventually morphs itself closer to something like “Sahara Green” in terms of its ambition as a song, but it’s because of the clever way it starts, it seems to have no problem at all in bringing me along for the ride.  At the end of the day, when I heard “The Colours Of Caravaggio” and “Distant Blue Skies,” I knew they’d be pretty tough to top for myself personally – and I also know that it’d be wrong to expect that, even from the greatest of the great out there.  You have to take the incredible moments you hear on a record as you listen, and almost separate them out sometimes as the exception, not necessarily the rule.  “Black Naturals” gets real close to how I feel about those first two cuts on Light And Shade, and spots like you’ll find around the six-minute mark will reveal real depth and beauty combined…spots like around the 6:40 mark show his mastery of how he uses the space around him…and of course, there are multiple moments along the way that have him cascading notes into a stunning tapestry of sound to create an all-encompassing experience filled with different emotions.  The guy deserves a lot of credit for his compositional talents.

“Elephant Grey” would be the track that comes closest to how I feel about the opening two tracks on this album, and likely right up there in my top three as far as my ears are concerned.  The magic this dude is making in the second minute of this song is something truly special I tell ya.  Compositional, in the moment-type music is such a different experience in listening than what we typically experience in songs that you’ll find on the radio, not just in how they sound, but in how they’re written.  Right around the 2:10-2:30 mark of “Elephant Grey,” I’m like, THAT’S IT!  THAT’S THE HOOK!  And I practically want to wrap my arms around this moment in time to let it know how special it sincerely is…and to tell it to STAY for just a minute or two longer, even though I know it won’t.  Like I said, there’s a difference in the style of music and the way that it’s made.  Galliano is so often onto something, and then right onto the NEXT something, that you’re bound to find many moments in his music you’d wish would last longer, but I suppose it’s probably a lot better to have that problem than not at all, you feel me?  It’d be an entirely different conversation if there was nothing there.  There’s always something there in Sommavilla’s music, it’s just a matter of whether or not you feel like you get enough of it.  If you don’t, then you push repeat…we’re capable of filling in the gaps that way on our side of the speakers.  “Elephant Grey” ends up finding its way into an awe-inspiring, subtle and sweet finale with about ninety seconds left to go, but will also have no problem whatsoever in keeping you engaged & attentive all the way through its length.

Whereas a song like “Elephant Grey” feels more towards the endearing side of his sound, a track like “Blood Orange Sunset” shifts towards the fascinating side.  Some of his most versatile work can often be the most rewarding to listen to, and I’d say “Blood Orange Sunset” fits into that assessment with its hybrid melody.  Galliano will move you through a level of sweetness, into a moodier middle section of this song, and straight on through to a superb finale…kind of like neopolitan ice cream, if you eat it in the right direction.  I think most folks would dig on a track like “Blood Orange Sunset” though…there’s a stronger degree of accessibility in this song than many of the others I guess…a universal level of sound that could appeal to just about anyone listening.  There’s drama, there’s beauty, there’s melody in every place you listen…it’s artistic, and certainly alive.  Mesmerizing at points like around the 5:25 spot…you can hear Galliano expertly slow everything right down to a crawling pace and how effective that is in reaffirming our attention as he heads towards the finish line.  Not every track you’re ever going to listen to in this lifetime needs to be stuffed with sound y’all…the real masters of music know that silence and space are a key element to creating songs that authentically move us…”Blood Orange Sunset” uses that all perfectly & creates another stellar highlight in a lineup that’s already been thoroughly filled with’em.

Light And Shade ‘The Colours Of The Piano’ feels like a return to the roots of what has made Sommavilla’s music so wonderful to listen to throughout the years.  Technically speaking, it’s his first new album since the beginning of 2020, pre-pandemic…at least according to the man himself.  I couldn’t tell ya for a certain fact – I’ve reviewed all kinds of different records from Galliano over the past three years, many of them being albums inside that timeframe.  Perhaps they weren’t new to him, but they’ve always been new to me; that’s the beauty about music you haven’t heard yet…it doesn’t really matter how old it is, if you haven’t heard it, then it’s still new, ain’t it?  Anyhow.  Maybe the last ones I checked out like Breathe at the end of 2020, or An Etheral Landscape & An Instrumental Odyssey from 2021 were comprised of tunes he’s written in the past…I’ll let him sort all that out with ya – all I can tell ya is that he’s noted Light And Shade as being his first record back since the beginning of 2020, that’s all I know.  I listen to a track like “Blue Sentiment” and certainly appreciate him being back in action…a dude with talent like this should never leave it sitting on the shelf for too long.  Sommavilla was truly born to communicate through the keys of his piano, and the world itself, is a better place when he’s doing that.  “Blue Sentiment” is lengthy, nearly reaching the ten minute mark, but I felt like the size of this song was well warranted.  Obviously it’s great to have a tune that’ll keep you listening on the edge of your seat to every single note and tone that’s played, but the flipside of that coin, is a song like “Blue Sentiment” that has more meditative-like qualities to it, that allows you to relax & rejuvenate your soul at the same time.  Maybe you do or you don’t give it your full attention every single time you hear it, you know what I mean?  It’s kind of like…you know how you end up reaching that point with friends where you achieve a comfortable silence, and it’s actually a GOOD thing?  That’s kind of what it’s like to listen to “Blue Sentiment” in my opinion.  It’ll set you adrift into your own thoughts, and it’ll bring you back from them as well.  Both of those things are achieved by the peace, serenity, beauty, and calming qualities in the music…sometimes they’ll send your mind elsewhere, but that’s okay…it’s genuinely welcome, because what you’re listening to is safe & tranquil…and when it livens up, you come right back to the clarity of your thoughts and the sound of “Blue Sentiment” equally clearly.  It’s a great tune on this album overall.

From my perspective, I feel like he finished this album as strong as it started – “Colours Of The Heart” is an exceptionally spellbinding finale and all-out beautiful song.  Like I told ya from the start, it’s always a true pleasure to listen to this guy play, because it’s like we feel the emotion in every one of the keys as we listen – “Colours Of The Heart” exemplifies his connection between him and his music.  Galliano is a remarkable talent, and I feel privileged to have learned about him…we don’t always get the opportunity to check out every single artist or band under the sun, and some we never even hear about.  Sommavilla not only exists continually on my playlists over here, but thrives at the heart of music-making in general.  Maybe this is his first album since before the pandemic, maybe it’s not…I don’t know if anyone out there will really know the answer to that besides the man himself, and that’s okay.  He’s continually put out tunes through the years, regardless of whether they’re technically new or not I suppose, and really, ain’t that all that matters?  That he keeps putting it out there, until we all get the opportunity to listen?  I’m all for it.  Not only for him, but for YOU too.  Like I was saying before – music is always new to us until that wonderful moment where we actually get to listen to it, so until that happens, take a page out of Galliano’s playbook and make sure you’re continuing to shine a light on all your hard work and efforts.  That continual investment and engagement with what you do, ensures that when it comes time for you to do what you do so well once again, you’ll end up with moments like “Colours Of The Heart” that prove the connection to music is as every bit as strong as you make it continue to be.  I think I’d probably bump out “Elephant Grey” by just a fraction from my top three…I think I gotta go with the opening two tracks and this absolute perfection he’s called “Colours Of The Heart” right here at the end of Light And Shade.  This final track might very well be the best of’em all…it’s certainly another massive highlight in his catalog, and it’s definitely a powerful reason to return to this record as soon as possible.

Find out more about Galliano Sommavilla from his official website at:

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