Bruno Bavota’s third album is a powerful statement from one of Italy’s hottest new artists. The Secrets of the Sea is likely to be one of the year’s most charming albums.
When Balmorhea first burst onto the scene back in 2007, many were enchanted by the duo’s lo-fi quality and absolutely stunningly simple acoustic guitar and piano blend. Since that time the duo has expanded into a full band and stylistically veered from that original template; production quality has steadily increased and the band’s sound has navigated into different waters , from post-rock and modern classical to folk and indie rock. A void was left from the departure of that simple, honest sound — one that really hasn’t been filled until The Secrets of the Sea hit the streets.
None of this is meant to detract from what Bavota has accomplished here; Secrets is filled with affirmative, heart-warming compositions and is constructed brilliantly as a cohesive whole. It also satisfies the difficult task of being full of memorable tracks — each has its own personality and begs to be replayed, yet Secrets doesn’t stumble with conflicting agendas or come across as gimmicky. Bavota is a skilled musician who’s also gifted at picking out melodies. Take, for example, the slowly enveloping embrace of “Me and You,” the exhuberance of “Constellations” (coincidence? It must be…), or the somber and contemplative “If My Heart Were Wide Like the Sea.” Anywhere you turn, The Secrets of the Sea is dazzling the listener with something new for the ears.
Bavota’s first two albums were certainly accomplished works that showed off the artist’s great potential, but his songwriting has really matured a lot with The Secrets of the Sea‘s toned down and minimal nature. For better or worse, individuals striving to be the next big thing in modern classical music are a dime a dozen; for each Olafur Arnalds or Nils Frahm there are scores of amateurs with their nose to the grindstone. With this album, Bavota is making a strong case to be amongst the former, and future releases will hopefully find him further exploring his unique skill set.