I’m guilty of judging books by their covers. If a book cover or title catches my attention, I’m more likely to take a chance on it without knowing much more about it. Sometimes I come away pleasantly surprised, but most times not. As a “glass half full” type, I couldn’t help but take on the review of Ray Tarantino’s new album, Good Things Will Happen. If I had to describe it in one word, it would be soulful. A mighty brass section and stirring backing vocals present throughout complement Tarantino’s raspy, yet warm and controlled vocals. Fortunately, this album fulfills its promise – good things did happen, to my ears.
Raised in the UK, Tarantino currently resides in the US. Good Things Will Happen has been described as a tribute to the American dream, and it fits the definition of Americana music to a T, melding influences of folk, country, blues, and rock and roll. Tarantino’s voice sounds like a mix of Jakob Dylan and Tom Petty, with a pinch of Daniel Lanois. That said, his songwriting and musicianship ensures that he stands in a class of his own.
The album starts out strong with “Brand New Day.” Boasting a vibrant brass section and soulful backing vocals, Tarantino shows early on that he is a talented lyricist: There’s a place across the dark where I belong / chase the doubt from my dreams / don’t let me be the one who gives up on me … Let me see / that I’m standing on the edge / one sunrise away from the blessing of a brand new day. Symbolically, the lyrics really convey the belief that “Good Things Will Happen.”
The more I listened to this album, the more I got that warm, contented feeling of happiness that comes from a long drive on a sunny day with windows rolled down, or a summer BBQ with friends and family. “Empty Hands” perfectly embodies this feeling. On “Faith in Faith,” Tarantino slows things down a bit, and shows off excellent, lilting guitar skills and a bit of a falsetto. The lyrics are strong and metaphorical again. And as I had come to expect by now, the amazing backup singers add a lot of heart to this track right near the end, as if to pound the message home.
The album mixes slower and up-tempo tracks in a way that flows really well. “Miss Me Now” boasts a lovely string arrangement throughout. “Guilty No More” is on the other end of the spectrum, offering a blast of drums, keyboard, insane brass, and a killer guitar solo. All of these serve Tarantino’s powerful vocals extremely well.
Within a few notes, I knew “Silver Line” would be a favourite on the album. Piano and acoustic guitar-based, it provides a ton of beautiful chord progressions. Lyrically, it’s exceptional, with Tarantino calling on various characters from Greek mythology: “Cupid do you ever retrieve the arrows you cast? / How do you feel when you witness that a love doesn’t last? / If I sliced every failure out of your past / Would it feel like the good that you’ve done hasn’t faded too fast?”
While there were a few tracks that didn’t strike me as much as others, I have to say that overall, this is a strong album with a great melodies and vocals, and inspiring lyrics. Instrumentally, there is a lot going on, yet all works brilliantly together. I will definitely be adding Good Things Will Happen to my collection, and look forward to hearing more from Tarantino.
Good Things Will Happen is available at http://raytarantino.com and will be released sometime in 2014.
Written by Valerie