Review by Shannon Shumaker
Vinnie Ferra’s arc en ciel is full of subtle emotion and beautiful songwriting. While the lyrics may not be in your face by any means, the delivery of the message and the overall songwriting are what make this album such a stunning release. Brought in by what sounds like an old family video, “Dreamer” is intercut with a somber piano intro before eventually fading into Ferra’s soft, yet emotional vocals and absolutely remarkable harmonies. The album doesn’t necessarily begin with a bang, but it doesn’t need to in order to catch your attention.
The second and third songs on arc en ciel, “Ghost Town” parts I and II begin simply, soft and hauntingly quiet, but also very soothing and beautiful at the same time. “Ghost Town Part I” feels slightly empty, while “Ghost Town Part II” is much fuller, but the two songs should absolutely be listened to side by side. “Ghost Town Part II” introduces piano and some string instruments before it comes together with the full band. The way that the song just explodes is incredible, giving you a taste of another side of Vinnie Ferra with ten songs still to come.
Many of the songs on arc en ciel have a very dark and brooding quality about them (see “Blondie” with gorgeous harmonies and a strong bass line, or “Rue”) but there are also songs like “God Forbid,” which, while still slow and somewhat somber sounding, have a much brighter tone to them. The acoustic guitar and lone violin in “God Forbid” add that soft, bright tone to the song that many other tracks on arc en ciel don’t have.
Even with differing sounds though, one of the strongest aspects about arc en ciel is the flawless way the album flows from one song to another. Even with changing moods, the transitions in between tracks are flawless. Bright sounds on songs like “Done With Love (Requiem)” flow easily into darker tracks like “Behind the Scenes.” “Behind the Scenes” is also worth noting because of the beautiful vocal work on the song, which shows a lot of versatility for Ferra.
It would be a shame to talk about the strengths of arc en ciel, without speaking about the songwriting, though. On top of flawless transitions, the use of different instruments to inflict certain feelings or moods is remarkable. Stand up bass, piano and violin are used to create a dark sense of brooding or longing, but in the same hand, the string instruments can be paired with an acoustic guitar or mandolin to evoke a softer, happier and sometimes even poppier mood. “Destroying Me,” for instance is easily one of the poppiest songs on the album, with a huge chorus and big ending that stands apart from all other twelve songs. The title track is also another strong one, full of bright sounds and beautiful vocal harmonies.
To be honest, at first glance, I almost didn’t expect an album like arc en ciel to keep me as captivated as it did. This album is much more than a simple “acoustic” record, and it would be a crime to write Vinnie Ferra off as just simply a singer-songwriter. The thirteen songs on arc en ciel each evoke an emotion and tell a story, be it with the vocals and lyrics or the incredible songwriting and instrumentation. Don’t believe me? Just listen to the masterpiece of a final song, “House on the Hill,” which clocks in at over ten minutes long. “House on the Hill,” in all of its glory, does not have one dull moment - the song ebbs and flows, getting bigger and louder before growing soft and quiet once more, leaving you feeling nearly exhausted when it finally comes to an end. arc en ciel may not be huge or explosive, but it is definitely a masterpiece.
Listen to "Ghost Town Part I & II" or "Behind The Scenes"