Marcelo Camela – Praise And Strings – Album Review
Well now! If we haven’t stumbled upon a 25 year-old guitar virtuoso today in review with Marcelo Camela…then I’ve got no real idea about anything I’m doing here; this is truly exceptional talent radiating from this record – it would be impossible not to notice how skilled this guy is. Normally, this is where the inner-child in me takes over…and immaturely, I usually end up throwing out a whole paragraph’s worth of expletives in enthusiastic support of the music…but not today folks! Today…I’m keeping the respect in-check for a guy that has humbly made an album full of instrumental worship music that reflects his own approach to praise and music…so no swearing here in this review…no matter how incredible the music gets I’ll just have to use my *gulp…vocabulary.
Forget about your pre-conceived notions of what music based around religion does/doesn’t sound like and put this record on with an open mind. After Marcelo RIPS apart the opening “Intro” with a blaze of guitar-shredding epicness, he starts right into a more fully-expanded idea in “Praising.” Elements of funk, rock, and of course the straight-up mastery of the guitar come ringing through bright & clearly in this absolutely incredible second track. Proving already that he’d be able to hang with some of the most competent names in instrumental guitar like Vai, Satriani, Johnson, Beck, Zappa…you name the amazing name & you’ll see the 25 year-old Marcelo completely belongs with this good company based on EVERYTHING you’ll hear. The spiralling & sprawling tones & sounds from “Praising” certainly filled me with an inspired sense of hope the rest of the album would be of an equalled incredibleness.
Marcelo doesn’t disappoint…the tune following the stunning rock-sounds of “Praise” is a song called “There Is Joy,” which lightens up on the shredding slightly in favour of brightening up the melody. Clearly this is a man that absolutely gets this kind of joy out of playing his music…you can audibly hear the passion & genuine emotion in a song like “There Is Joy.” And of course…it’s not that the song doesn’t have its guitar-shredder aspects…Marcelo takes the fret-boards for a flawless rip through scale after scale in some highlight solo-work in the midst of “There Is Joy.”
The audible-magic of music is widespread all over “From My Heart To Your Ears.” Nearly an anthem through guitar alone, this is a very powerful & moving track; the ‘chorus,’ if you will, or main-hook…whatever you want to call it…this is as bright as a fireworks display; the drums pop, the guitar shines and everything in the melody of “From My Heart To Your Ears” sets the speakers alight. Beautifully played from beginning to end, clever breakdowns and truly smart choices from Marcelo.
Where he proves himself most however, is the following track “To Him Who Loves Us.” It is such an understated talent to be able to evoke such emotion from an instrument. Many claim to be able to do it – most never will; they feel the emotions they have in writing their songs, but to make us feel anything similar is what separates the good from the great. Listening to the audible passion put into a song like “To Him Who Loves Us” should give you that butterfly-feeling in your stomach, or a genuine spine-tingle…this is the magic of music at its finest. Again assuming the intention of many of these songs are to proclaim his own devotion to his faith, “To Him Who Loves Us” plays as honourably as it does skilfully – what an incredible & beautiful composition!
Marcelo hasn’t let us down for a second on this record and I think he continues to display a large heart in his music, tones and atmosphere on “Arms Of Grace” which combines electric, acoustic, harmonics at times…excellent progression and song-writing once again, which has completely become a standard on Praise And Strings. The skill it takes to do what this dude does is absolutely incredible…to think he’s only twenty-five…he’s got a long career in front of him if he continues on at this exceptional consistency with his writing, playing and music.
I wasn’t all too sure about “Light Of The World” for some strange reason at first…this one took a few spins to fully grow on me. The energy fully dips for these three & a half minutes and the gentle, delicate melody that ensues sounded so chilled-out by comparison that it took me a couple listens to really be able to chill-out WITH it…I was digging the up-tempo & melodic combinations that Marcelo was packing into the first half of the album…no harm in that! “Light Of The World” is a sweet tune…though for the demonstration of skill that Camela has already displayed earlier on, it does sound almost a tad too easy for him at times, but I appreciate the moment to breathe & relax.
“Light Of The World” also leads the album into a slightly new direction & tone for a short while. Marcelo seems pretty committed to let his faith and music guide his sound & style without forcing himself to write any particular one kind of music or stay within the borders of the ‘instrumental rock-guitar’ genres. As he heads into “Invincible” you can hear the mariachi in him as he masterfully plays this song. Based out of & from Puebla, Mexico – the authenticity behind the music stands out on “Invincible.”
That short break in the absolute madness couldn’t last forever…and I knew that. The explosion I was looking forward to comes in through “Lord Of All” – this burst of just over a minute long might serve as somewhat of an interlude, yes – but it certainly demonstrates the supremacy of its subject matter. BIG BIG song for only a minute-plus – and it sets up “Might And Glory” perfectly to roar in and take over where it leaves off. A massive journey in sonics and heavy as it gets…those out there that think religious people can’t truly rock are going to want to revise their statements after hearing “Might And Glory.” Heading into the second-and-a-half minute of the song has one brief but highly effective solo that really stood out to me amongst the rest; and in writing that, I started to smile – there’s SO MUCH to choose from off of Praise And Strings – Marcelo Camela is a name I will certainly remember for a very long time.
The beautiful “Te Amo Jesus” is another absolute masterpiece from Camela. I think this was the stripped-down, emotional moment I was truly looking for before with “Light Of The World.” While that one took a spin or two to appreciate it, my love for “Te Amo Jesus” was immediate. I love the recording, I love the writing, the performance…the melody is one of the most beautiful I’ve heard this year…Marcelo is perfect as perfect gets in this delicate, gentle song…immaculately gorgeous.
Staying in the beauty and love of all-things-music & faith at the end of Praise And Strings, “A Song For My Saviour” translates wonderfully. Marcelo trades in the guitar for a piano in this final tune and gives us a sample of another side of his music entirely at the end – but the quality in the writing, melody, performance and sound are all of the same magnificent quality. “A Song For My Saviour” completes a triumphant run through an amazing album with sincerity, heart and genuine grace. Marcelo should be incredibly proud – he’s done an absolutely outstanding job with Praise And Strings and is the audible proof of just how strong of a character you can become through faith and devotion.
Find out more about this incredible musician at his official homepage: https://www.facebook.com/marcelocamelamusic