Jess Buick, Contributor Ω
Former Blue Rodeo keyboardist Bob Wiseman is releasing a new solo album entitled Giulietta Masina at the Oscars Crying. Wiseman’s 12th album crosses many genres, from indie/folk rock to slow melodic piano ballads.
This eclectic collection is fuelled with a wide array of sounds and introspective lyrics, which vary from subtle to in-your-face political meaning.
“The Reform Party at Burning Man,” paints an image of members of the former Canadian federal political party attending the massive hippie festival in Las Vegas.
Another track, “Aristide at the Press Conference,” refers to Haiti’s first democratically-elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was deposed and exiled in 2004 after many in Haiti came to regard him as a dictator.
Most of the album sounds heavily influenced by Athens, Ga. based indie rockers Of Montreal. It also has a resemblance to Daniel Johnston’s folk style, but sounds much more sophisticated.
Wiseman’s gift of writing music that perfectly compliments his lyrics is showcased by songs such as the title track. The harmonies and lyrics are haunting. It’s the first track and is very slow and harmonic, setting the tone for the album in a way one wouldn’t expect.
The lyrics allude to the marriage between Masina and famous Italian director and scriptwriter Frederico Fellini. The marriage lasted 50 years and ended in 1993 when Fellini died. The tone of the song portrays heartbreak perfectly and one can hear the well-executed melancholy mood.
The first single off the album is “Neil Young at the Junos,” which starts with heavy keyboards and light tambourine with a very country feel. Essentially about Neil Young performing and receiving awards at the Junos, one may say it is an ode to Young. It’s littered with compliments to the Canadian performer but also has a hint of sarcasm to it.
One track that jumps out at the listener immediately is “Robert Dzienkanski at the Vancouver Airport.” The lyrics start with “I was born in Poland, but I died in Canada, shocked five times by four men.” The song is an overt analysis of the RCMP handling of the infamous incident, which happened almost six years ago.
Musically this album is a very soothing study companion, but also opens minds to some obscure and interesting popular and political culture that the audience may not have heard of, or haven’t read up on in a while.