This album, folks, tells a story. Not only a story about one human or one situation. The album is a ragbag of humanity, a love letter to special people, and an ode to characters who test boundaries, push limits, and navigate the complexities of life with a touch of glorious tragedy. “The Bad and the Beautiful” tells about exactly what the title says, it’s an homage to a community of artistic eccentrics. A community that Diane & The Gentle Men are proud to be part of.
With a disco-ish undertone, gift-wrapped in a funky positive attire, the first tune of the album called “Lace Up Your Sneakers” dives right in, releasing what I would like to call “energetic wisdom”. In a unique retro-flavored setting, the tune glows like a diamond while narrating the tale of a carefree slacker who met an untimely end. Coming with a full-fledged music video, this tune serves as a great showcase of Diane and the guys, opening the door to the universe in which they create.
“Dance Til Dawn” focuses on emotion. Backed by a melodic slow backing, the stage is all set for the pristine vocals. There’s a certain melancholy present in the tune which rather carries confidence than sadness, and it’s this signature last-call vibe that makes the track so credible. The next track of the album, “Walk With Me”, contains a powerful vocal duo that enriches the album with wisdom and a certain “seen it all” texture. Diane Gentile teamed up with fellow musician Alejandro Escovedo to create what feels like a life lesson that is taught by someone you knew all your life. For me, it’s a serious but energetic point of view delivered with a rockin’ drive.
Stepping on the brakes a bit is the next tune in line, “Fade Away Author”. This track is something to sink your mind into, it’s a ballad-styled storyteller that relies on these ravishing vocals blooming in a slow, relaxed atmosphere creating a warm and accessible vibe that sticks to the listener. One of the absolute strong suits of the music of Diane & The Gentle Men is to transmit not only the notes but the feelings as well. The memories. The life lessons. The scars life has given us. The past, the present, and the future. You gotta love the honesty that happens within the tracks of this album.
“Shimmy” is no different regarding this emotional intensity, but the tune delivers in a whole other format. Containing a gorgeous synth organ in a rockin’ environment that comes with drive and a sassy smile, the tune feels like a road movie’s soundtrack. This is something to crank up while driving home on an endless open road late at night. The next track in line, “Far Away Down the River”, contains a very specific memory vibe for me. The calm and resting melodies and the beautiful vocal performance invite you to lean back, get a drink, and swing along to the story at hand. But you shouldn’t get too comfortable sitting relaxed and loosened. “The Hook Up” injects drive and energy in an instant. I love the versatile energetic levels each song on the album brings. As this album is an ode to people, you can clearly see the character’s personality just by feeling the overall vibe. In the case of this track, you can feel the whirlwind of emotions connected to a dense energy that brings mystery, sassiness, and a road full of decisions.
“Sugarcane” once again changes pace and direction, building an undisturbed mesmerizing canvas for the vocals through a sophisticated warm bass line and chord stabs hitting right between the guitar melodies. This results in an almost theatrical stage effect, the track gets a sublime texture that makes you hang on to every word of the tune. Interestingly, “Be There” is completely different from that. With a direct, straightforward, and edgy approach, the tune creates something I can best describe as a “broken dreams hangover” atmosphere. You gotta love the carefree freestyled approach in which every member of the band does their thing. In full context, this totally makes sense to me, but it also feels edgy with an offended undertone. Closing the album, “Kiss The Sky” uses a much more soft and friendly canvas, taking the listener one more time by the hand for some wisdom and honesty wrapped in floating melodies and heartfelt calm textures. It’s the perfect curtain call for the album coming to an end.
All in all, Diane & The Gentle Men created a stunning album here. Based on probably everyday characters that are larger than life regarding your point of view, the whole project feels real. Presented with honesty, passion, and soul, and spanning a ton of genres while being enriched with its own twists, this is music you can truly relate to.
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