There is often opportunity in crisis and tragedy. Something positive and not ugly profiteering. The COVID-19 pandemic leveled many lives, but others sought the comfort of their artistic talents as a way of weathering this once-in-a-lifetime storm. Valerian Ruminski concocted the alter-ego Impresario and broke away from his career as a Metropolitan opera singer for the side project of 80’s inspired pop singer. He has produced three albums of original material since March of 2020 and his fourth, 80’s Caravan, defies any retro-inspired labels you want to slap on it.
ABOUT THE PROJECT: https://impresarioproject.com/80-s-caravan
It has every bit as much in common with singer/songwriter material as it does pop. The first track “When I Asked the World for Love” sports a relatively unwieldy title, but the lyric is far from so. Ruminski writes about learning the value of self-reliance with clear-eyed skill and some listeners may even be a bit taken aback encountering such a mature lyric within such a superficially shallow setting. His point of view may seem a little unsparing to some, but you can’t quarrel with how well stated it is.
Sounds, like looks, can be deceiving. The pre-programmed backing, not including the supporting vocalists, of course, is warm and well-orchestrated. Impresario’s backing music exudes warmth rather than sounding stereotypically cold like many electronically driven tracks. The album’s title song buzzes with even more energy than the opener, sparking throughout, and it’s an ideal vehicle for Impresario to deliver his youthful reflection. It is a measure of his talent that he’s able to write about this without ever sounding too sentimental.
He takes his music in a jolting direction with the song “King of the Juice”. Biting lead guitar played an important role in the album’s title song, but it’s entirely different here. The rockabilly overtones of the track are difficult to deny and Ruminski affects an unusual vocal tone that some listeners may not like. It is not a fatal blow for the song, however, and the track definitely rocks harder than any of its predecessors.
“Over and Over Again” is one of the album’s best examples of the pure AOR-inspired pop it professes to love. Many listeners will be hooked in by its comfortable stride and Ruminski sounds as comfortable as he does in the collection’s best moments. “After Me” has intense rhythms that pick you up early in their shuffle and lock you into an infectious groove. It is one of the album’s most effective numbers.
“I Wanted To Love You” is full of bitter realities, and hard hitting emotional truths, and placed within the perfect arrangement for it. Impresario pulls away much of the 80’s-inspired pop gloss for a more unvarnished presentation. The vocal arrangement is especially natural and blends well with the piano playing. There are a variety of musical faces Impresario wears over the course of 80’s Caravan without ever diluting his identity. Instead, he comes out of this fourth album sounding like a songwriter who hasn’t even peaked yet and leaves you wanting more.
by Jennifer Munoz