LIONVILLE – II
Recipe for success in the AOR business: establish your ability as a songwriter or session musician, network your skill set on recording and touring projects, repeat until services rendered pay it forward. For Italian singer/ songwriter/ multi-instrumentalist Stefano Lionetti, he assembles all the best working parts in the melodic rock/ AOR business for Lionville and this second album "II" is another blockbuster effort from beginning to end.
It all starts with the songwriting. 9 of the 12 tracks handled musically by Stefano (with "Higher" a collaboration with keyboardist/ producer Alessandro Del Vecchio and the cover for "Waiting for a Star to Fall" from 80’s band Boy Meets Girl an outside duo credit), he understands the nuances of what makes material dynamic and memorable: instant uplifting chords that connect within the first 30 seconds, similar hook capacity for the chorus and refrain, and the right balance between guitar solos, a keyboard underpinning and multi-part vocal harmonies. It doesn’t hurt that the backing musicians have decades upon decades of experience in the business: some of the more notable ones include Bruce Gaitsch (guitarist for Richard Marx, Chicago), bassist Anna Portalupi (Hardline), and Chicago vocalist Bill Champlin (who takes the lead vocals for the standout "Higher").
Reference points include Toto on opener "All We Need", the slightly progressive rock feel in the instrumental sections of "Higher" bringing Styx and Asia to mind to this otherwise comfortable Chicago-like number, and "Raised On Radio" era for the sunny "All This Time". Alessandro adds a little bit of his extra keyboard texture to the opening strains of Lionville’s take on "Waiting for a Star to Fall", but the chorus seems to be a tad tricky melody-wise in the vocal department- hitting a little lower register than expectations.
Highly engaging and well worth the entertainment value, track "II" down at any costs. All those who are into AOR/ melodic rock, the ones who thought the 1980’s were the greatest times for rock music, and even newcomers to the fold need Lionville in their ears and hearts.