The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world









A sense of humour is a good thing in music and so ‘Why Did It Take So Long’ the opening track on Steve Balbi’s ‘Black Rainbow’, his debut solo release, might just be a little ‘tongue in cheek’ after so many years in the industry without going it alone. It’s a sweet pop song that showcases Balbi’s great vocals and obvious knack in writing a hook. On that basis the question remains: “Steve if this is what you can do why did it take so long to get this first album out”?


Of course most will know Mr. Balbi from his long stint in Aussie legends Noiseworks (who are in the process of recording a new album too) or maybe the Electric Hippies, or even his stint in Rose Tattoo as bassist, but after such a long and interesting career the fact that this is his first solo outing is still rather remarkable given the quality.


If anything the low key ‘Winners’ that follows ‘Why Did It Take So Long’ is more representative of the laid back mood of the album as a whole. Don’t expect fireworks on ‘Black Rainbow’ though: expect quality songs laden with emotion. Expect catchy choruses and expect to be mildly amazed that this didn’t happen sooner.


One of our favourites is the bittersweet ballad ‘From Love to Dust’ which you could almost wring the tears from. In contrast songs like the wistful ‘Metaphor’ seem a little trite in comparison lyrically, but it’s saved by a soaring midsection and there it is – the whole other uplifting side to ‘Black Rainbows’.


In an album of highs and lows emotionally ‘Sweet Sabotage’ finds great balance and while the lyrics of the album as a whole are solidly love-centric you can forgive that particular safety net. The acoustic led ‘Moving On’ is a sweet song, honeyed vocals and strummed chords but somehow you wish it could sail closer to the sun, and when the female vocal kicks in it so nearly gets there. Repeated listens confirm it’s one of the most important songs here.


If anything disappoints it’s the fact that the tempo is pretty constant throughout, and you can’t help but imagine that Steve has a real rocker in there somewhere, or at least a really dirty Blues. Songs like ‘Protection’ are full of soul but the album would benefit from that shift in gears.  When you hear songs like ‘What Do You Do’ though, you feel slightly selfish in wanting the artist to step out of a comfort zone that they so eloquently present.


The cover of the Noiseworks classic ‘Touch’ is certainly the song by that band which sits most comfortably here and it’s a nice nod to the past 25 years on and beautifully orchestrated pinioned against the throwaway ‘Apple Tree’  which hints at so much more in a Kinks meets Small Faces way.


Black Rainbow is the album you need to take away the winter chills and to lay back to with someone you love.



Mark Diggins