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“Ray has one of those million dollar voices.” (Into The Hill)
“He is bald! He writes really good songs and has a great voice but he’s bald!”
This is how the head of a major recording company responded to Ray’s music. But Ray knew that somewhere in the word he would have found at least one person that cared more about music than hairstyle. The guy from the London based label will probably never know, but Ray was right!
Ask a man about his dream and he’ll outline an imaginary scenario. Meet the same man 6 years later and ask him again. Chances are he’ll just smile and play you a song, follow him and you’ll see just what he had in mind. Ray Tarantino resides in Nashville (TN), he is now a voting member of NARAS (Grammys) and performs every night in the cities most prestigious writers’ rounds. Ray has played close to 1400 shows and tours the US in a ’97 Econoline Van with a queen size bed in the back. His music tells a story. There is a sonic image and there is a literal image. Blend them together and you have one of his tunes. There is an MTV image too, that one you can flush.
He was born in the north of Italy and grew up in the UK. Start in the middle by envisioning this: a young man earning good loot locked in a life he doesn’t feel. His aristocratic family are pleased for him. Right formula, wrong result. Five o’clock in the morning and he’s pushing a brand spanking BMW at 100mph through the dead of night. His eyes close, the road disappears for a handful of seconds, the silence is shredded by the metallic rage of high-velocity smash-up.
Ray Tarantino broke out of the golden cage of respectability into a state of serene recklessness after that near-death wreck on an empty motorway heading to Rome. It was dark. But the sun had to rise. What Ray had hated in himself died at the scene; the man he wanted to be walked away from it, a smile on his face. Five years and 900 shows later and we’re looking at a roving singer songwriter who cashed in the numb comfort of a mechanical existence for the exhilarating knock-backs and breakthroughs of a life of spiritual fulfilment. No musical mercenary, Ray Tarantino has staked his claim on the narrow strip where the so-bloody-British immediacy of pop blends with the so-damn-American power of folk-rock. That’s what he has always felt, the natural outcome of the music he’s always heard.
Let’s rewind to dig it all! A couple of months after the crash Ray Tarantino produced his debut album Recusant with Tony Bowers (former bass player and co-founder of Simply Red). The web is known to be the planet of meritocracy. It helped unsigned Ray kick-start his musical career with a number one placement on the MySpace UK charts, hurled up there with indie-band Gomez and major-phenomenon Amy Winehouse. A few weeks later he was signing a deal with boutique label Massive Arts and Sony Music Publishing. He got a little cash and hit the road to introduce his music across Europe. Couldn’t wait! In the meantime Recusant landed on the desk of Evolution Promotion in the US (Moby, Sting, White Stripes) and was tested across the States receiving airplay from AAA radios. Ray flew across the pond and toured the US to live his life of music. He didn’t make projections as he ventured into the world and fed it with all he had to offer. Ray, a travelling troubadour, living for the day in a land of forecast-inspired/exposure-driven/budget-backed cool looking music acts planning to be “next big thing.” He looked for nothing but honesty and truth, leaning on storytelling and the beauty of casual exposure.
One show after the other he improved his craft, acquiring virtues that were soon to be acknowledged by the few that managed to get hold of him: he was invited to open one of Tori Amos’s 2010 solo shows; his song “Senza Pelle” (recorded by Italian folk artist Patrizia Laquidara and produced by Arto Lindsay) was chosen by Howie B for a remix; his composition “Your Heart My Heart” was recorded by Delmar Brown (Sting, Miles Davis, Jaco Pastorius); his call-to-arms hit “Recusant” topped the Great American Song Contest; the lyrically inspiring “Five O’clock In The Morning” received an honorary award in the West Coast Songwriters International Competition. Ray also produced soul artist JHall’s debut EP for Universal USA then got full stars on Rolling Stone producing and co-writing Italian Luca Gemma’s third critically acclaimed album “Folkadelic.” The press has often used precious words to describe his work, associating his poetic lyrics with the mastery of Bob Dylan and his sound with the integrity of Springsteen, U2, David Gray and Daniel Lanois. Radios that received his music jumped at the opportunity to broadcast his “no-brainers” and his country’s most credible TV personality Serena Dandini had him play on her record-breaking show viewed by almost four million people.
Ahead there are only more songs, more shows and more miles.
Ray Tarantino’s second critically acclaimed studio album “Ray Tarantino” is released by Tiny Drum Records and published by Sony Music/ATV – Massive Arts.
His third album will be recorded in Nashville sometime in 2013 and will be released when Ray will feel ready to put it out there. Is there any hurry? Make sure you connect with Ray on Facebook and Twitter, sign up to his mailing list to receive access to exclusive music/videos and news. Last but not least, try to catch one of his shows and say hi!
“I spent years looking for freedom and I’ve learned that it doesn’t exist. We’re only free to decide what we want to be chained to.” [+]