Having been a fan of Italian artist Fil Bo Riva for a while, I was delighted to receive a preview CD in December and it has accompanied me on countless car journeys since. Around the same time, my half brother died unexpectedly and ‘Beautiful Sadness’ became the soundtrack to my life. Beautiful Sadness indeed. It is extraordinary the way music can make us feel and have the power to draw out memories we had forgotten about or influence our mood. Even as I listen to the album now as spring flowers bloom outside my window, it conjures up the feelings I had then of sorrow, but also hope. Hope for the year ahead and a fresh stream of moments and memories. Interwoven between Riva’s emotive vocals, genre-blending and instruments are little pieces of me and my own personal journey. Memories of my son singing along to ‘L’Over‘, my husband saying ‘Radio Fire’ reminded him of Coldplay and the day I drove to my brother’s funeral on a crisp Christmas Eve, with ‘Baby Behave’ particularly resonating with me as puffs of tobacco coloured clouds unfurled themselves around my car and tears paused on my cheeks.
‘Beautiful Sadness’ takes you on a personal journey whatever memories are associated with it. Fil Bo Riva has crammed an ocean of emotions, textures, genres, and moods in this 13 track album. It was written over two years so no doubt Riva has many of his own experiences interwoven in the music too – the highs and lows, the juxtaposition of beauty and sadness. It really is a fitting title to a project that epitomises a rollercoaster of emotions from euphoria to pain. It’s weighty with heartbreak and loss. He says, “I wrote about things I was going through; issues, problems, and beautiful things with my girlfriend.” There is careful use of arrangement and dynamics and Riva’s conflicted vocals soar over rich and layered guitar lines and flawless structures.
Fil Bo Riva otherwise known as Filippo Bonamici had a simple vision for ‘Beautiful Sadness’ to craft songs that would sound fresh for many years ahead. He comments, “Not too modern, and not too old,” he continues, “Songs that can stand the test of time, in the same way that Coldplay’s ‘Parachutes’ has.” He discusses his collaboration with guitarist Felix A Remm and producer Robert Stephenson. “I see it almost as a mix between a solo project and a band. Without them, the music would have sounded very different indeed.”
Bonamici is proud of his Italian heritage and one of his dreams is to prove that artists from Italy, or anywhere really, can succeed on their own terms. Music has been part of his life from an early age and now at 26 he has honed his craft but is still learning, still growing.
‘Beautiful Sadness’ is a revelation and will always mean something to me personally. And I do believe music like this will stand the test of time. It reminds me again of how important music is – how it can have an impact on us, help us find comfort and resolution. Yes, it’s sad, but it’s truly beautiful.