Bear Family Records have released a recently recorded album by vintage-inspired singer and guitarist Marcel Riesco. Patiently is pressed onto a 10-inch vinyl and contains 10 tracks. The package also comes with a bonus CD featuring the album plus four extra bonus tracks. Is this album worth picking up?
I had not heard of Mr Riesco prior to writing this review, and I wasn’t too excited. I often find myself very cynical towards those who try to replicate the studio sounds of the past. In my experience, it can sound much too clean, or watered down to the point it loses its edge. Artists can be prone to mimicry too, leaving me cold on occasion. With this in mind, I was wary.
From the moment the stylus touched the record, I realised I need not have worried. The opener, written by Phil Everly under the pseudonym Ellen Carrol, is a catchy number that cleans up Larry Barnes’ 1961 arrangement. Making full use of stereo, Riesco is surrounded by slapback guitar, booming bass, prominent drums and a slice of the piano. Riesco’s vocals are given the slapback vocal treatment, which is mostly consistent throughout the album. It’s clear he’s going for a sound that hints at Nashville, Sun Records, the work of Jimmy Haskell and more.
What follows is a selection of Riesco originals that sound like they fell out of a time machine. It is clear Marcel understands the structure and vibe of this music, it feels authentic. Honey Kiss, in particular, could’ve kept any juke joint swinging nicely. Lead by an acoustic and peppered with electric and steel guitar, Stranded in Dallas is another irresistible composition.
Taking huge inspiration from Roy Orbison, Marcel’s style echoes his hero. His vocals, in particular, are reminiscent of the big O in his early days, without sounding like an impression. His take on Orbison penned You’ve Got Love (as made famous by Buddy Holly and the Crickets), increases the tempo but keeps most of the elements intact; albeit a little clearer in the mix. Sands of Gold, a throwback tropical ballad, is possibly the closest to Orbison’s heartbreaking voice; Riesco’s high notes are flawless.
Another track of note, Trying to Forget, is a superb early 1960s-flavoured production with hints of the Nashville sound. This kind of traditional big production, fronted by Riesco, is extremely pleasing on the ear. Another Country Song, the title not an observation, finishes the album with a slice of understated classic Country feel.
The styles of music contained in this album suit vinyl really well. This album was produced by Marcel Riesco at Jack Clement’s Cowboy Arms Studio in Nashville, and it shows. There has been an effort to ensure these songs sound authentic while maintaining the clarity of a modern recording. While listening, I often had to check when these recordings were made.
A Little Something Extra…
When I first glanced at the artwork for this album, I was blown away by its accuracy. Everything from the framing to the image detail and colour grading evokes album artwork of the 1950s and 1960s. If someone had told me this was a lost album from that era, I would have thought it was true; It’s that convincing. Copies of this package come with a postcard of the artwork.
The bonus CD contains the album, with some bonus tracks placed in the centre of the track listing. These have a far more Country flavour than half of the main album but fit nicely.
- Stranded In Dallas
- Honey Kiss
- You’ve Got Love
- Sands Of Gold
- First Date
- You Know It’s True
- Broken Hearted
- Trying To Forget
- Another Country Song
There are many artists out there who try to pay tribute to the past, but come up short in minor details; Marcel isn’t one of them. This album contains fragments of Rockabilly, early 1960s teen Pop and Country, drifting between them effortlessly. The attention to detail is staggering, with Marcel’s self-written material sounding familiar without ever feeling derivative. His voice fits in nicely, his guitar lines are well observed and the arrangements authentic. If you’re looking for a slice of new music that evokes the joy of the old, this album is for you. Whatever happens next for Marcel, he has a new fan here!
Patiently by Marcel Riesco is available from Bear Family Records.