Label: Inside Out Music
Release Date: August 5, 2023
Trevor Rabin has created a lot of music over the years—one of my favorite Yes albums, 90125, is one he contributed to. Also, a few years ago, I saw that version of the band perform live, which was a real treat.
Rio is Rabin's first vocal album in 34 years. I received the two 180-gram LP sea blue set (Ltd t0 1,500 copies) for review. The artwork was digitally created by Rabin as well.
Trevor covers some ground on this album by playing guitar, bass, keyboards, drums and percussion, mandolin, banjo, dobro, and backing vocals for his lead vocals. So essentially, he is a one-person band.
Yes, fans already know Trevor's voice is like Jon Anderson's. Also, some of the music is like what Yes has created. That is fine with me, as I enjoyed this album and found it quite eclectic, regardless of those similarities.
Side A begins with "Big Mistakes," the first single release. The track is an exciting opener with catchy hooks and good lead guitar changes.
"Push" is a good mesh of guitar and keys with fast instrumentation that melds with the vocals. Many changes take place, going back and forth. The orchestration, violin, and piano finish things off as it fades out.
"Oklahoma" is a nice acoustic number with some rapid picking as the keys come in with a quiet interlude as the vocals enter with "We build from our wounds warmth." The moving instrumentation and vocals are panoramic and picturesque, painted with orchestrations and a biting guitar line for emphasis.
Side B starts with "Paradise." Good rhythms with excellent drums and bass are features. Twangy guitar and soaring vocals come in. All the instruments are so strong, and it turns into a toe tapper. Multi-layered vocals and a jazz flavor are towards the end, then back to a fast pace as it ends.
"Thandi" has an interesting beginning. The band is in hyperdrive again, flying along and returning to an average pace. The vocal effects, which offer several flourishes, are reminiscent of his time with Yes. The powerful rhythm section and keys push along some fantastic guitar work.
"Goodbye" is a country sound with the galloping bass and drums. Some nice picking arrives with banjo and dobro to make it all sound authentic. A honky tonk piano comes in as well, and the vocals are undoubtedly suitable for all of the musical colors populating the track.
"Tumbleweed" closes out side C with significant harmonizing effects, which change quickly as it moves along.
Side C begins with "These Tears," the album's only slow burner that builds with additional background vocals and purposeful instrumentation that are then pronounced further with keys and some cool guitar lines. It is a very dynamic performance.
The word "Egoli" means the place of gold or Johannesburg. The song begins with a strong bass line and continues to provide a steady backbeat. The funky sounds with vocals to match are all quite different than the preceding tracks. The harmonizing reminded me of Paul Simon's Graceland album and the amazing Ladysmith Black Mambazo. See how it all ties in? The vocals are like an additional instrument. It is what I define as World-Prog.
"Toxic" closes out an excellent album from start to finish with some rocking sounds. There is a great bass and strong guitar in the spotlight. Then it turns industrial in sound, yet another surprise. The changes and some very cool sounds come forth. The track would serve as an excellent single release.
Side D is one of those clever etchings. It would have been a bonus if they had put a few tracks off Trevor's massive box set that was released. But even without that, it is a fine release.
Rio is a superlative performance by Trevor Rabin and his guests. Quality musicianship and vocals like this tuning into any radio station streaming or conventional are uncommon these days. The album is a triumph in every aspect of musicianship, engineering, sound, and the quality of 180-gram vinyl pressing, not to mention the cool translucent sea blue coloring.
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-TFOV Founder
November 12, 2023
1. Big Mistakes
1. These Tears
Side D: Etching