Sandro Perri’s second album in as many years is also his best.
I’m cognizant of the fact that, as I sit at my computer choosing words to describe the music of Sandro Perri, there’s a hurricane bearing down on people in another part of the world. Homes, lives, and livelihoods are being threatened by nature’s most brutal wrath, including those of my friends who are about to experience their first hurricane since moving to their new home a year ago. I’m not religious, but I pray (in my own way), that everyone in the hurricane’s path is blessed with the calmness and clarity needed to see themselves through the worst of the wind and the rain.
Front of mind lately when I think of calmness and clarity is the visionary work Perri shares with the world on Soft Landing, his second solo release in as many years under his own name. While the album follows hot-on-the-heels (by Perri’s standards) of 2018’s In Another Life, the songs on Soft Landing have been aloft in Sandro Perri’s consciousness for years — the last ten to be exact — patiently waiting their turn to touchdown on record. Typically, a music-that’s-never-found-a-home collection doesn’t always have the cohesiveness and clarity of an album conceived and executed in one go, but Sandro Perri is anything but typical. Revered for his acumen producing electronic-based work, Perri focuses Soft Landing around his expressive and sublime guitar playing. His riffs rise and fall as if in time with slow, deep breathing on “Time (You Got Me)”. The “infinite song” glides on gently rolling musical currents for an impossible sixteen-plus minutes: piano, benevolent percussion, and Perri’s inimitable voice weave an immersive tapestry of sound I’d gladly let play forever.
The majority of Soft Landing’s compositions are demarcated by more traditional pop song length (the longest clocking in at six minutes even) but are still as musically expansive and glacially paced as “Time (You Got Me)”. Instrumental “Floriana” is a humid, bluesy affair; Perri’s guitar licks drip like the perspiration falling off someone standing perfectly still in the sweltering heat. The swaying “Back on Love” is the closest Perri’s ever going to come to recording someone’s first dance song. Perri saves his best 70s soft-rock postures for “Wrong About the Rain”, which is the best argument yet for the clavinet’s triumphant comeback in the coming decade.
“Wrong About the Rain”’s optimistic lyrics suggest that even the dampest and dreariest of future forecasts have the potential to be rewritten and revised. It’s a sunny-eyed sentiment meant to temper even the most difficult of situations. Though I’m under no delusion that Sandro Perri and his music have the power to quell the destructive forces of nature in its tracks, I hold out hope that the song and its siblings on Soft Landing are positive portents of the storm gathering over the Atlantic. Be safe, everyone. See you on the other side.