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Fragile by Sam Ravenna – a top of the playlist debut album.

Patrick O’Heffernan.  Host, Music FridayLive!,

I couldn’t resist Sam Ravenna’s new album, Fragile which picks up where his last releases left off but is more diverse musically – making it even more interesting.   Fourteen perfectly crafted songs that seamlessly blends hip-hop, electro funk, jazz, R&B  into music that not easy listening, but definitely easy to listen to. Released October 19, Fragile represents Ravenna’s use of music to navigate and sooth the vagaries of a fragile life that included a mental breakdown at 22.

The Lake Tahoe-based multi-instrumentalist debuted last year with a self-titled EP that broke new ground and showcased his hard-earned chops from  The Berklee College of Music. He has been a sideman for other artists including Eric Lindell, Cas Haley, Tubby love, and Peter Joseph Burtt & The Kingtide for the past decade with occasional producing forays.  But after ten years as a touring musician,  producing and collaborating on albums for well-known bands, he is more than ready to step out.

sam ravenna. car lean

He tested the waters last year with the funky  “Rapplesauce” and the reggae-dub “Samily Man” and has now taken the full plunge.  So he pulled together an all-star band of players from top touring acts in the country:   John Riley (Drums), Cory Hall (Guitar), and Brian Silverman (Keyboards) and help from members of Turkuaz, Nahko and Medicine for the People, Odesza live band and took the plunge.  I for one am very glad he did.

He kicks off the album with a boisterous   “U Give Me Sumthin”, a romance song co-authored with Reed Grimm that chronicles the power of love in everyday life  —  a little Motown, a little trippy, and all earworm.  He moves on to “Help Me Find It”,  pulling the audience in with a request to help him accomplish his musical and mental adventure. In “I  like it Here”  is a platform for his smooth voice and talent for infusing ardor into a song, no matter the tempo.  Now  that he is “Here”   he follows with “Where I am Coming From”,  a déjà vu love song that  sets us up for the more folksy “Won’t Be How It Was” and the  poppy  “Let It Be Known” featuring Cas Haley, Reed Grimm, and Ben Teters,

When the album hits the halfway point it shifts dramatically with the interlude “Teterlude”  and then flows into the harmonious R&B romance-drenched “Can’t Be Replaced” before it stops for another interlude, “Arplude”.  The tone and mood shifts again in the saxophone-led  “Human Condition” with smooth hip-hop/R&B vocals that glide slickly through your sound system before they do a sharp percussion turn in “Pendulum”, backed by classic jazz horns.

sam ravenna bw had 300sq

The title song makes its appearance third from the bottom but is a solid standout.  Launched with a piano crescendo that backgrounds a fast-moving bass/synth lines, Sam’s voice echoes behind the music and then disappears altogether while the band moves on like a single organic being living in an electro jazz world.  After a final interlude, Ravenna treats us to the final song, “Abigail”, which flows into our ears with a piano tapestry giving way to a thumping bass and Ravenna taking us into a psychedelic world of sound and lyrics.

Ravenna manages to smoothly gather together a large collection of songs from seemingly different worlds whose unifying force is his addictive voice and ability to create a mood.  For my money, he has debuted with a top of playlist collection that I hope presages many more to come.

Sam Ravenna                https://samravenna.com

Fragile. Released October 19, 2018. Available from the website or Bandcamp

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About musicfridaylive (50 Articles)
Patrick O’Heffernan, PhD., is a music journalist and radio broadcaster based in Los Angeles, California, with a global following. His weekly radio program MusicFridayLive! is heard nationwide and in the UK. He focuses on two music specialties: emerging bands in all genres, and the growing LA-based ALM genre (American Latino Music) that combines rock and rap, blues and jazz and pop with music from Latin America like cumbia, banda, jarocho, and mariachi. He is a cyclist, dancing fiend and also likes to watch his friend drag race.

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