Fredo Viola: The Turn
Born in England, but educated in the United States, Fredo Viola’s talent is his voice, and he is blessed with an unusually beautiful natural instrument. Should the long promised new Massive Attack album ever find its way to a pressing plant, you will hear Mr Viola on it, apparently.
Using repeatedly layered multi-tracked vocals, he harmonises with himself on his debut album, ‘The Turn’, producing music that impresses not just in its originality, but in the depths of its ambition and the range of its influences.
Never better expressed than on the lilting ‘The Sad Song’, these songs sound dreamy and effortless, but are clearly the result of many, many hours of dedicated work. Generally accompanied by simple synth backings, Fredo evokes the choral pieces he sung as teenage choirboy, and also demonstrates a love of the best work of the Beach Boys.
The focus is always on the voice, and it is the human being at the centre of things that marks ‘The Turn’ out as much better than the bulk of quirky synth-backed singers currently flooding the marketplace.
Although the songs themselves rarely seem to have any hidden depths beyond their melodic invention - certainly Viola is no great lyricist, and ’The Sad Song’ dispenses with them altogether - this still sounds like a tribute to a love of life and music. ’The Turn’ is a quietly stunning record.