Review Summary: A Rock Fusion masterpiece that screams elegance.
Marco Sfogli is one hell of a guitarist, and like most of you, I had no idea who he was. While listening to James LaBrie’s (Dream Theater) Elements of Persuasion
album, I was blown away by the solo in “Drained” which provoked me to google the album and find out who this monster was killing it on the 6-string; enter: Marco Sfogli. After a little research I found out the Italian is far from a session player, and actually has his own album (There’s Hope
) as well as a small but loyal fan base around the globe. Fate would have it that this accidental discovery would become one of my favorite guitar albums, ever.
Sfogli operates with a style that is pure class and maturity; no aggressively distorted & detuned riffs or double bass grooves that try to portray the player in a “badass” light. Au contraire, it’s simple melodies and phrasing that Sfogli jams over on his way to conveying the genuine joy he feels with a guitar in hand. Sfogli’s playing is inhumanely clean as he uses virtually no unnecessary effects and reverb throughout the album. With a slight driven tone, Sfogli relies on flawless playing that will leave many seasoned vets feeling as if they’d better break out the metronome and monotonously work on their skills. I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to mention this isn’t a result of studio magic either; his picking is that damn good in person too.
What then, separates Marco Sfogli from the titans of the guitar world like Vai, Petrucci, and Satriani? Well, if we’re going to judge a guitar player solely on his abilities as a musician then there is no logical reason to exclude Sfogli from that grouping, however, where Sfogli cannot match the previously mentioned legends is in categories of persona, sheer creativity, and presence. Sfogli is a little bald-headed guy who doesn’t fiddle around with trademark appearance gimmicks to boost himself in popularity; some could call it ‘not pursuing all avenues’ or ‘not trying hard enough’, but I call it ‘being genuine and conducting oneself as a true professional of the arts’. While Vai and others are deserving of every bit of the credit they’ve received, there’s something wonderfully satisfying about a rare talent who lets the music do the talking entirely for itself with the aim of inspiring like-minded souls.
This isn’t a shred album by any standards, but rather an album of sophistication. For the listener who may not have a strong interest in instrumental guitar, There’s Hope
will inherently become boring after a few tracks, but for someone who fancies the genre there will be no difficulty finishing the album at once. While Sfogli will presumably never make it to the mainstream stage, he has one heck of a knack at creating both memorable melodies and lasting impressions of his playing. It’s no surprise that progressive icons like James LaBrie and Jordan Ruddess chose Sfogli to work with. All in all, Marco Sfogli’s There’s Hope
is a cut-above the rest and I highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of true-to-the-core, no-gimmicks, honest musicianship.
Most recommend tracks: