Italian pianist Bruno Bavota is a romantic at heart. Last year’s uplifting La casa sulla Luna was a love letter to the moon; the new album is a love letter to the sea. Since the moon has an influence on the tides, the two are clearly related. And yet, Bavota is not strictly writing for nature. The opening track of Luna is titled “Amour”; the opening track of Secret is “Me And You”. The artist’s heart is filled with human yearning. His titles burst with metaphor: “Hidden Lights Through Smoky Clouds”, “The Man Who Chased The Sea”. Is not the sea like a human heart? And love like a light glimpsed through clouds?
Bavota is many things, but melancholic is not one of them. The closest he gets is contemplative. This mood is established early, as the album begins with his first instrument, the guitar. The piano comes along like a welcome companion. “Me And You” is the perfect choice to accompany the cover: a man is standing on a rock, seemingly alone, staring out across the ocean. We cannot guess what is on his mind, but his stance indicates that he may be thinking of someone or something on the other side.
The secret of the sea is never indicated. Even Longfellow, in his poem of the same name, leaves the answer tantalizingly out of reach:
“Wouldst thou,”–so the helmsman answered,
“Learn the secret of the sea?
Only those who brave its dangers
Comprehend its mystery!”
If the sea is a metaphor for love, then the answer is simple: one must brave its dangers in order to comprehend it, and even then, one will be unable to explain it to others. But on a purely physical level, the secret may be that when we stare out over the sea, our problems seem comparatively small. In like fashion, Bavota surrounds his listeners with a sea of notes in which to drown their sorrows. A great warmth infuses his music, which seems fuller than ever before, thanks to the increased presence of the guitar. On “The Man Who Chased The Sea”, the piano’s entrance is so late that one begins to doubt it will ever arrive ~ again, for many people, just like love.
Bavota walks a very thin line. His songs are emotional, yet not saccharine, calm, yet not sleepy; accessible, yet not maudlin. The only way to explain this is to highlight the fact that his music is an extension of his personality, which lends it authenticity. He’s not just playing notes; he’s speaking through them, saying be calm, be still, be hopeful; love still exists; the world is still good. As he turns his eyes northward in “Constellations”, “Northern Lights” and “Chasing Stars”, one can intuit the theme of his next work. The sun, the moon, the stars, the sea: all remain constant, like true love. (Richard Allen)
Release date: 24 April