Album Review - "Dreamin' Man" by Sal Valentino
Whether he's channeling mellow songs or the rough and raggedy stuff, Sal puts his best foot forward each and every step of the way
A veteran of the scene, Sal Valentino experienced his initial flash of fame back in 1965, the year the band he fronted, the Beau Brummels, crashed onto the charts with "Laugh Laugh" and "Just A Little." Not only did the San Francisco group prove to be an innovative lot, as they fused layers of stark folk structures with double dollops of frisky Merseybeat rhythms, but they're also awarded a bronze trophy for being the first American band in the wake of the British Invasion to make the grade in a major way.
Due to their name and cool image designed of shaggy haircuts and Mod threads, more than a few people believed the Beau Brummels actually hailed from England. But the group never pretended to be anything they were not, since their excellent and enterprising music always spoke for itself. Although the Beau Brummels failed to survive the psychedelic era, their impact continued to resonate throughout the ages. Come the seventies, Sal performed with another hotshot Bay Area band, Stoneground, and then there was a Beau Brummels reunion in the middle of the decade that amassed positive responses.
A solo career has further granted Sal acres of acclaim, and here on his latest album, "Dreamin' Man," the good vibes persist. Moody guitars that twitch and tumble with edgy elasticity penetrate "Snowman," where the country informed "Valley Of Woe" features some might fast six-string picking and toe-tapping tempos. Tasty keyboard fills, aided by streams of catchy melodies light "Love Song," and a cover of Joan Armatrading's "Weakness In Me" exposes Sal's emotive vocals to great effects. Raw, rustic and exploding with vim and vigor, "Looking For You" sounds like a long lost Traveling Wilburys session, and the title track of the disc moves slowly but surely with haunting atmospherics.
Embracing his blues, folk and country roots that are dominated by a strong Bob Dylan influence, while simultaneously peppering the material with ear-grabbing pop perspectives, Sal has crafted a prized piece of music. His vocals are direct and intimate, and the instrumentation is fresh and inviting. Whether he's channeling mellow songs or the rough and raggedy stuff, Sal puts his best foot forward each and every step of the way. Pure and honest, "Dreamin' Man" is a real treat.
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