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"Wilderness Road"

He’s known for his incredible voice and hair.  Not bad assets when you’re breaking into the music business. Gino Vannelli even went so far as to stop A&M Records' co-founder, Herb Alpert, in the parking lot of his L.A. record company back in the 70’s and ask him to listen to his demo tape.  

Herb did and the rest is history.  From ‘I Just Wanna Stop’ to ‘Black Cars’, Gino Vannelli has given us a slew of hits, albums and tours. Wilderness Road is his first new full length studio album in 20 years and with it come 12 new compositions that focus on recent and past experiences.  One of them, 'Yet Something Beautiful', is inspired by a woman who was helping a paralyzed man in a wheelchair who came into the coffee shop below the studio where Wilderness Road was being recording. Gino said he just saw the kindness and grace in the woman's eyes and wrote the song immediately after the encounter.  Listening to these new songs from one of Canada’s greatest singers, we feel Vannelli has connected with our spiritual side. 'Road To Redemption' showcases his incredibly unique style of singing with its slow,  simple voice- piano intro that builds into this gospel-like orchestral ending. Gino's talents are endless, showcased on "Older N' Wiser",  with its kicky punch drums, horns and piano, and Gino playing practically all the instruments!  With some amazing backup singers, he’s created this bluesy, exhiliarating swing on 'Gimme Back My Life', slow and jazzy, reminiscent of George Michael's material before he passed.    'The Woman Upstairs’ is a neighbour's tragic story of domestic abuse that was based on Vannelli’s childhood memories growing up in Montreal.  I think since Gino moved to Portland, Oregon some years ago, his music has taken on this soulful balance of originality and inspiration.  Going back to his roots of getting that record deal. Not the flashy hair and 70’s outfits but what Herb Alpert heard.  Songs that drew you in with their storytelling and sung with the voice of an angel.

Gary James

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