November Album of the Month
Looking back, it’s hard to understand how Violet Blend’s ‘Demons’ didn’t quite make Album of the Month – so its second time lucky, I guess.
This high energy live album from Florence’s finest is a particular treat for recent UK fans of the band, many of whom may not yet have had the chance to experience them live in concert.
Since the release of ‘Demons,’ Violet Blend has been on an ongoing rise with rockshow listeners. This is in part powered by a string of songs – Rock DJ, Voices In My Head, My Head Is Broken – and framed by the band’s wonderful engagement with the Rock Show and its listeners. The run of Florentine interviews have each been hugely memorable and the band’s hosted shows were also hugely creative. These two facets of the band – the songcraft and the personality – come together on this fine live album. A tour de force over 17 live tracks, with ‘Live and True’ Violet Blend gives UK music fans an arresting insight to the band’s live persona. The album also serves as a calling card for UK festivals to add this band to their bills for 2024.
I’ve never picked a live release for Album of the Month before but it somehow sees fitting to celebrate live music after a year when many clubs, theatres and grassroots venues have struggled to fully bounce back after the twin economic impacts of Covid and the cost of living crisis. For people that have been drawn to Violet Blend’s studio output in recent years, this album will not disappoint. In fact it underlines the simple point that, ultimately, this is a band to experience in the concert hall. This live release was recorded around the time that ‘Demons’ came out and features songs from their first two releases.
I will refrain from a track by track for this album, as it’s not a studio release. This fine live album should be played from start to finish as an immersive live music experience. And despite our reliance on Internet video clips to enjoy live songs today, this album really stands up as an audio-only experience. Not all live albums do, but this one shines.
When you take away the effects, the lightshow and the visual drama from live shows, some rising bands struggle live to match their recorded product from the studio. The opposite is true of Violet Blend – you might well decide to rest ‘Demons’ and turn to ‘Live and True’ as your Violet-go-to after the first few listens. The playing is tight throughout and the balance between instruments is good, with the drums serving as a slightly firmer anchor.
The voice is so impressive through the live set. Giada has a great range, but the dynamics and emotional power of her vocal really comes alive on this album. I can’t think of many singers whose vocal is quite so strong, on-point and confident on a live album. The vocal rocks, has operatic qualities and is heartfelt for the ballads.
What I like about Violet Blend is they are who they are. They’re not copying a UK or US rock style, their pride to be Italian musicians washes through the DNA of the band. And you have to be prepared to embrace the context of Italian culture to really get them – their humour, their drama and their passion. They rock, there have operatic flavours, at times a bit of eccentricity mixed with Italian self-confidence – and they like wearing Violet coloured clothes. And why not? They are proud who they are, they love what they do and you feel this on the new live album.
This album will make us all hope they return to UK venues and play festivals soon. For those that can’t wait, ‘Live and True’ many even encourage some to have a city break in Italy and see them play on home soil.
‘Live and True’ is a triumph in allowing us to see a much-loved band through a new lens. It’s an album that should make them UK festival essentials for 2024. It’s also an album that celebrates the joy of live music and, culturally, it goes someway to remind us Brits that, deep down, we’re all Europeans. The friendships, cultural enrichment and artistic inspiration we can all enjoy from mainland Europe is something for us all to fully embrace and celebrate.
Live and True is released on 27 October
Album pre-orders and band news at https://www.violetblend.cloud