Hamilton guitarist and songwriter Chris Bianco, on one of his earlier albums, described his music as “old-school/retro/Latin/slow jazz/new-folk.” It aptly describes this freelance troubadour from Hamilton, a military veteran who travels far and wide to spread the word about his passion: protecting the Earth’s wild places and creatures.
As a self-described “believer in pre-emptive peace,” who promotes “ecological conservationism,” he also endorses wildlife rescue and wilderness restoration projects, and spreads the word through his music.
Bianco’s devotion to all things wild leads him to write and sing about the peace and enjoyment nature lends the human soul. On this album he mines a folk/country vein, and his story-songs are a retelling of a day spent enjoying “wilderlands, set to music.”
Bianco’s style is simple and straightforward, and underpinned by considerable talent on the guitar. With an unusual vocal delivery, trembly and almost deliberate, he adds an emotional element with his agreeable baritone.
The title tune, “In Montana,” has a south-of-the-border subtlety, as Bianco sings about the blessings we all enjoy living in our great state. He overdubs his voice to sing the same vocal line in unison at times, a technique that recurs in his compositions.
The sound of wind accompanies a fluid guitar solo in “On a Windy Winter Night” ; a howl and a spoken-word intro infuse “Bareback Rider (The Wolf’s Call).” There’s a sweet, folky blues nuance and a whistle-while-you-walk feeling to “Grandfather of the Wilderlands.” And “The River Bitterroot” opens with a cool guitar solo that teems with dexterous hammer-ons.
There’s a lot more. Bianco, through his gentle music, encourages us to stop, listen and absorb with all our senses the wildness that we Montanans take for granted. He finds it appropriate to release this effort during the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. That’s good timing.
Visit Bianco at www.wildersong.com.
– Mariss McTucker