Steve Balbi - Black Rainbow

Steve Balbi - Black Rainbow

You may or may not recognise Steve Balbi as the bass player from Noiseworks. That would be a great gig but poor Balbi has never felt like a bass player. His debut solo record Black Rainbow is a cathartic album that he’s been working on for a long time.

There’s rock, there’s acoustic, RNB, there’s pop. There’s a variety of styles but the album feels like a cohesive whole rather than a muddled set of songs. The familiar themes are mostly based on Balbi’s past troubles, yet the album’s music and lyrics sound quite positive.

Everything here is to service the song. Guitar solos are present only on the songs that need it, while the other cuts feature guest vocalists who feel right at home. The studio production is incredibly tight, creating the best sound possible from these songs.

There are some great choruses and vocal melodies, and I think the opening track ‘Why Did It Take So Long' sets the tone perfectly. I think one of the first things you’ll notice is how bloody good his voice sounds. The moment I heard it I immediately thought of Don Felder, the former Eagles guitarist. Balbi’s voice is similar, but he’s definitely a stronger singer than Felder. The slow chorus of ‘Sweet Sabotage’, my favourite track, is where his vocals shine.

‘Moving On’ starts off acoustically with a simple story about Balbi and gradually adds instrumental layers as it goes on. On ‘What Do You Do’, Balbi asks “What do you do?/When you don’t know what to do?” over a ukulele. Even in that song Balbi knows where to stick extra instruments and melodies.

This album is over 50 minutes of colourful positive vibes despite the dark past written in the lyrics. He is clearly optimistic about the future, a future which will hopefully include that new Noiseworks album they’ve been so quiet about. Don’t expect a raw and noisy rock record, expect something pleasant and satisfying to listen to. Some may feel that the album sounds overproduced, but all Black Rainbow tries to be is a great personal piece of music.

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