There are sadly very few record labels focusing on westcoast pop music these days, but Contante & Sonante is one of few keeping up the fight. As most devoted collectors know, the label does not release many albums but their items are always warmly welcome.
Finnish TOMI MALM has been involved in the DAVID FOSTER tribute that Contante & Sonante released back in 2009 (wow, the years really pass by…). Now he’s here with a really strong solo album, with lots of great singers and players.
Among the new names to me with have an awesome singer: JULIAN THOMAS, singing in the ballad “When you’re gone”. Now, there’s a lovely clear voice that I want to hear a lot more of the coming years!
The CD is a fine mix of established names and some of the upcoming ones popping up over the years. The latter are represented by for example BJARNE LANGHOFF (backing vocals), and SHEM VON SCHROECK (TOTO’s new bass player and backing vocalist). The glittering oldies are for example JASON SCHEFF (lead vocal and bass on “Walkin’ on air”), CLIF MAGNESS (lead vocal on “You belong to me”).
SHEM sings wonderfully in one of the albums best songs “Wouldn’t it be kinder” (by Malm and CECILY GARDNER). This one has a chorus that would have made AIR SUPPLY proud. Then back to the more well-known oldies again, and FRANK ÅDAHL – just hear the song “Favor”! He sings better than most guys and gosh, such charisma this voice has got! I think a little of the sadly missed SHERWOOD BALL. Talking about Sherwood Ball; there is a lot of JAY GRAYDON (á la “Airplay for the planet”) vibes here and there. “Perfect imperfection” I a fine example. By the way, the song is added by lovely smooth alto sax by BRANDON FIELDS.
Another artist I think of when listening to this great album is SERGIO MENDES. Especially the ballad side of this CD reminds me of stuff from the “Confetti” or “self-titled” recordings – and one of the reasons except for quite similar song style, is that several of the lead vocalists here are in the same type as the wonderful JOE PIZZULO.
I find it difficult to find any flaws when traveling through this album. Sure, the opening instrumental pop/fusion tune “Kuwakaribisha” is very short – it would have needed at least two more minutes but ends at 2.19. Maybe one ballad too much here, too – but why complain when the song quality and performance is top notch? I also must stress the fact that this album is full of very clever arrangements and cool twists, not only by the fantastic horn players. Whenever a truly soft song has started, you can be sure that Tomi and his comrades will add cool guitars, syncopes and whatever to bring the song all the faces it needs. This is really a very, very strong album! Gimme more, Tomi. And to all you other great westcoast artists out there – see this as an inspiration to get started on your own new albums, no matter if your name is BILL CANTOS, RICKY DELIN, ROBBIE BUCHANAN, ROBERT SÄLL or whatever.