Album Review: Lori Diamond & Fred Abatelli – Lifted

Lori Diamond & Fred Abatelli

photo by Shannon Power; photo courtesy of Lori Diamond

Lofi Diamond & Fred Abatelli – Lifted

Album Review of Lori Diamond & Fred Abatelli: Lifted

Lori Diamond & Fred Abatelli - Lifted

image courtesy of Lori Diamond

There aren’t a lot of artists performing an easy listening folk style the way Lori Diamond & Fred Abatelli do. Lori’s full, rich, soaring voice combines with Fred’s adept, softly energetic and colorful guitarwork to put an original, engaging spin on a style that’s not lately been a significant destination for such talented artists. As a result, Lori and Fred are a dominant local force in this lane of the musical highway, and their well-crafted albums – Lifted the latest – are necessities for a well-rounded music collection. After numerous near misses, I finally caught the duo live this past fall, and now I’m pleased to review their most recent (2015) release.

This album begins with “Always There,” a soft, soaring, keyboard-powered number that features a blend of Lori and Fred’s vocals in support of Lori’s vocal lead.

Lori Diamond

photo by Nikilette Walker; photo courtesy of Lori Diamond

Influences are all pretty straightforward throughout the album – folk, soft rock, easy listening – but other influences pop up from time to time. There’s a little soul in Lori’s voice in second track “Way Back Home,” which otherwise comes across as a ’70s-style vocal soft pop tune. Indeed, many of the songs might have connected with more mainstream audiences in the ’70s, as that’s when vocal soft pop was at its pinnacle within pop culture. As is the case with all musical styles, though, there’s always room for the best in any genre, especially when they keep things modern and interesting. Great music is timeless.

Back to the album, though, the next track “Dreaming” picks up the tempo a bit, adding playful and jazzy elements.

Fred’s vocals take the lead on the title track, “Lifted,” a heartwarming love song that sums up the heart of this album, its warmth almost suspending time as it washes over the listener. This comfortable, uplifting warmth, in fact, is a hallmark of Fred & Lori’s music, fitting well with the duo’s personalities in a live setting.

Fred Abatelli

photo by Nikilette Walker; photo courtesy of Lori Diamond

“The Outside” follows with a bit more energy again, its path guided by Fred’s subtly adept guitarwork, easy to miss behind Lori’s softly dynamic vocals and the song’s message of inner vs. outer beauty.

“Good Harbor” is another soft song, with the richness of Lori’s voice in lead, supported by Fred’s, driving a song that’s clearly about a very special place. It’s followed by “Castle,” perhaps my favorite song on this disc, whose piano lead-in and late-song ivory-tickling combine with soaring vocals, ranging from rich power to softness, to weave an interesting, softly dynamic path.

“Wayfaring Stranger” is the only cover on the disc. It’s a full-on ’70s cocktail lounge-shaking number, showcasing Lori’s only serious vocal wails within this collection and featuring fancy Western-flavored, smooth axework from Fred. This original, inspired rendition is an adult contemporary musical masterwork.

Lori Diamond & Fred Abatelli

photo by Nikilette Walker; photo courtesy of Lori Diamond

The album closes softly again with “OM,” a peace and love-inspiring, warm, rich number. It’s the perfect choice to end a Lori Diamond & Fred Abatelli CD, as if the album rides off into the sunset leaving the listener surrounded by warmth. And there’s that word again. Warmth. That’s at the essence of Lori & Fred’s music on Lifted, warmth… delivered with care by a duo of exceptionally talented musicians.

Looking Ahead

Keep an eye on the tour page of Lori and Fred’s website to see when they’ll be performing near you. There are currently several dates listed around Massachusetts in the next few months.

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