CD REVIEW: Giulia Millanta - The Funambulist
by: Cyrus Rhodes
Artist: Giulia Millanta
Genre: Alternative Rock, Epic Euro
Pop, Progressive Americana, Psychobilly
Giulia Millanta moved to Austin in 2012 after touring Italy, The Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and other parts of the United States. Her travels have contributed greatly to her musical journey and the development of a songwriting style that explores what it means to be a part of this human experience. Giulia began singing and playing the guitar from a young age, mostly performing traditional folk songs. The Funambulist is Giulia’s fourth release, and one of her most conceptual projects. The album reflects on the contemplation that traveling brings, a chance to look out the window of a moving car and ponder the lives and situations of others in a new environment. She communicates longing, joy, regret, hope, and the importance of risk: the will to leave what is comfortable in order to attain a greater understanding of existence.
The CD kicks things off with the “Mia Voix” a dynamic intro piece that serves up inviting instrumentation, well-crafted melody and warm vocal presence from Millanta. This first track is comparable to a warm blanket or inviting welcoming mat. Track 2 “Lost in Space” shifts gears a bit with its infectious rhythm guitar painted against impressive musical build, heartfelt vocal delivery and grand slam finale. Track 3: “II Grande Fratello” showcases even more songwriting brilliance from Millanta. This piece delivers flawless European vocal presence and well placed acoustic guitar accents that flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many musical textures reminiscent of classic vocal acts as Squirrel Nut Zippers, Mazzy Star, No Doubt, Suzanne Vega, Tori Amos, and even Edie Brickell. Despite this her sound is extremely hard to pigeonhole. The music itself combines classic elements of earthy Folk Rock with an aftertaste of Alternative Rock, Epic Euro Pop, Progressive Americana, Psychobilly. The musicianship of everyone involved is clearly above the bar. You will also notice lush layers musical instrumentation layered everywhere which besides the 4 piece standard includes impressive guitar ambience/chops, psychobilly guitar, strings and fiddles, sporadic percussive accents, piano, effective rhythm section, impressive piano and keyboard chops and well placed vocal harmonies layered everywhere. The CD has some truly impressive moments on it showcasing impressive songwriting, world class instrumentation via Millanta’s honey coated vocal delivery. Zeroing in now on Millanta – her voice goes down smooth as she makes the vital (singer to listener) emotional connection. Millanta can hold your attention well during some of the CD’s solitary moments. This is not as easy as it sounds and when done properly will stop you I your tracks. Millanta executes the pin drop moments well clearly proving she is an artist worthy of your attention and praise. If she wrote all these songs she could be bigger than any of us realize at the moment. About 40% of the CD is sung in both Italian and Spanish tongue. From heartfelt “Carry the Cross” and “Could Have Been My Father” to dynamic “Gerbere” to rocking” How Does God Sleep At Night” to striking “How Fast Can You run” to psychedelic “Please Come Visit” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 14 “The Funambulist” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.
Solo guitar on Track 3 “II Grande Fratello” sounds really pushed back in the mix to the point where I can’t even hear it. All songs over 4 minutes tend to drag you to the finish line. Mix though effective is a bit off kilter lacking thick low end punch and frequency – a very bright mix overall.
From start to “The Funambulist” is an amazing collection of music by Giulia Millanta. Note for note, song for song there isn’t really a weak piece on this entire catalogue. All pieces are short and sweet musical experiences, each one possessing its own signature groove and musical personality to call its own. The writing and playing abilities of this band are rock solid, the catalogue is highly diversified, progressive and dynamic. Last but not least the vocal presence and amazing songwriting abilities of Giulia Millanta just makes the whole thing work. She is infectious artist that knows how to sing you a song, and occupy a special place in your heart with her amazing European/American hybrid artistry.