2018 release from Street Symphonies/Burning Minds Music Group.
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Gianluca Firmo – Vocals, backing vocals, keyboards. Mattia “Noise Maker” Tedesco – Guitars. Nicola Lazzi – Bass. Daniele Valseriati – Drums, percussions. Davide “Dave Rox” Barbieri – Backing vocals.
Paul Laine – Backing vocals, track 2. Mario Percudani – Guitars, tracks 6,9 . Stefano Zeni – Additional guitars, tracks 1,5,10. Carlo Poddighe – Additional guitars, tracks 1,3,4,10. Pier Mazzini – Keyboards, track 6. Andrea Cinelli – Piano, track 12. Alessandro Moro – Saxophone, track 6.
- A Place For Judgement Day.
- Heart Of Stone.
- Shadows And Lights.
- Maybe Forever.
- No Prisoners.
- Didn’t Want To Care.
- Don’t Dare To Call It Love.
- Cowboys Once, Cowboys Forever.
- Until Forever Comes.
- Forget You Not (Bonus track).
You may know his name from some of his songwriting for bands such as Lionville and Raintimes, but chances are you will know him most for his project Room Experience where he made waves throughout the melodic rock world with the eponymous debut in 2015 along with renowned powerhouse vocalist David Readman (Pink Cream 69) who provided the voice behind the Firmo penned tracks on that record.
Well let me say that if you are a fan of AOR than after hearing ‘Rehab’, the name Gianluca Firmo is one that you will not soon forget.
When I heard that Gianluca would be releasing his first solo record than I expected to hear another Room Experience type album, only with him singing instead of Readman, of course. Well do not go into this thinking that way because, while both are written by Firmo, that is about the only thing you will find in common between the two, though you may pick up on a few similarities in some ballads.
And do not make the mistake of taking that last statement as a bad thing because that could not be further from the truth.
This is a simply fantastic record that really shows what a great writer Gianluca is. There are fun songs like the title track, beautiful, heartfelt ballads like ‘Everything’ and lots of emotion through it all with not a single filler track in sight.
‘A Place For Judgement Day’ is an upbeat track that has a strong Johnny Lima vibe to it in my opinion. A terrific melody and a catchy chorus proves this was a great decision for an opening track and gives us a good idea of what to expect from the record. Definitely a standout for me.
‘Heart Of Stone’ has one of the best choruses of the album and, again, is reminiscent of Johnny Lima and current Bon Jovi. Just to make sure this song was as great as possible then joining Firmo here on backing vocals is none other than the one and only Paul Laine, a sure fire way to make any song better!
‘Shadows And Lights’ slows things down a bit with a lovely, mid-tempoed ballad while ‘Maybe Forever’ takes the tempo up slightly and delivers a nice little pop rocker. Both of these tracks are simply fantastic and continue on with the same strength that the record started with before climbing back up to the rocking pace of the first track with ‘No Prisoners’. Absolutely one of my favorite songs of the album. Just a hell of a great tune that will have you singing along in no time. Again, I hear some Lima in this one and I am loving it!
‘Didn’t Wanna Care’ is the first full-fledged ballad of the album. It is a pretty mellow track and while I do like the song, it is the weakest track of the album for me. But don’t let that dissuade you from giving it a listen because it is still a solid song to be sure.
‘Unbreakable’ is a terrific, upbeat song with another catchy, sing-a-long style chorus and it leads into ‘Don’t Dare To Call It Love’, another great, mid-tempoed pop rocker while ‘Cowboys Once, Cowboys Forever’ slows things back down to give us a nice, mellow song that, again, I just love.
The title track, and first single from the record, ‘Rehab’, is a fun, roll the windows down, let your hair fly in the wind kind of rocker talking about how we all need something to give us “rehab” and in the case of Firmo, and likely many reading this including myself, music is that outlet. I love this song and with a lyric like “shouting a song no one else remembers’ most of us can likely relate to it what with loving a genre that, sadly, has long since passed popularity among most of the world. A very catchy tune and a great choice for the album title and first single from the record. You can hear this one by clicking on the link near the top of the page under the Media heading.
‘Until Forever Comes’ is another mid-tempo power ballad and it is one of the best ballads of the record in my opinion. A fantastic, beautiful song with a lot of emotion packed in.
‘Everything’ starts as a mellow, piano backed ballad before the guitar comes in near the end and turns it into a power ballad. Again, an absolutely beautiful song. This man certainly knows how to write a ballad, which I love, and these last two are just stunning.
‘Forget You Not’ is a bonus track available through a Q code on the record and that is a shame because this is not only the best ballad of the album but I dare say perhaps the best song of the album period and, in my opinion, should have been included on the physical format of the record. An absolutely wonderful, emotional song that starts out mellow and that gives way to a more upbeat chorus and it delivers one hell of a great power ballad. I absolutely love every second of it! One of the best songs of the year for me.
And there is the album. A stunning debut solo record for Firmo that he now has a LOT to try and live up to the next go around!
The only critical things I really have to say about this record are personal preferences and very minor complaints. First, I am not crazy about the saxophone in ‘Didn’t Wanna Care’. It is not a prominent instrument throughout the song and only appears briefly however, but it just didn’t work for me.
Secondly, I don’t personally care for the beginning of ‘Don’t Dare To Call It Love’ which starts with a toned down line that starts to skip like a vinyl record before you hear a squeaking like the needle being moved and starting again into the actual song itself.
While there were definitely some, I won’t say that every song on the album was an instant hit for me, it took a few spins to really get into a couple of them, but the great thing about this album is that it is a HUGE grower of a record and I have found that every time I listen to it I love it more than the last time and I can honestly say that, aside from my two very minor quibbles, I love every song on the record.
While it is certainly upbeat, this is not a “rocking” album per say and won’t satisfy anyone looking for a heavy rock record. What it is though is a fabulous, sometimes mellow, melodic rock album with some beautiful songwriting, terrific playing and great production.
A bit of a mix of Johnny Lima, a bit of modern Bon Jovi and a whole lot of Firmo’s own sound all combine together to make this one a winner in my book.
Gianluca has really outdone himself here, not an easy feat considering his first record ever was the fabulous Room Experience album, but I must say that, while it is quite different stylistically, I think this may just have that debut album beat with the songwriting.
I can’t get enough of it!
Now bring on the second Room Experience album and let’s hear more from this guy!
Very highly recommended.
Be sure to check out my interview with Gianluca where we talk about this album, Room Experience and a few other things by clicking here.
Rating: 96 out of 100.
‘A Place For Judgement Day’.
‘Heart Of Stone’.
‘Shadows And Lights’.
‘Until Forever Comes’.
‘Forget You Not’.