Carl Baldassarre – Grand Boulevard


To say that Carl Baldassarre is a man of many talents would be something of an understatement. As a guitarist, educator and YouTuber, he has fingers in several pies but, on the strength of his inaugural album Grand Boulevard, his main calling is surely as a musician and composer. An eclectic (but unified) offering that incorporates everything from rock to R&B via orchestral pop, Grand Boulevard paints its sound from a wide palette to provide a multicoloured listen.

Attesting to a sense of urgency, opening track ‘You’re Gonna Be Right’ immediately gets its hand dirty and lands a couple of deft blows with a neat riff and drum combination. There’s a real new wave/power pop sensibility to this track that gives it instant earworm status. Despite being angular and spiky, it’s the type of song that’ll drill its way to the centre of your cranium, and once inside, it won’t be leaving anytime soon. The track has a definite ‘80s feel (which, of course, is a major boon) and brings to mind classic song-smithery of Bryan Adams and Huey Lewis, and will certainly give you a warm, fuzzy nostalgia for that era. The following ‘Dead Ballet’ finds Carl employing all his compositional skills and utilising plenty of sunlight and shade to play with the listener’s expectations; lulling us into a sense of security with a sound that gently cradles, before a weighty riff hits us right between the eyes. It’s almost as if we are putty in Carl’s hands, and throughout Grand Boulevard he will constantly reposition us with a sound that incorporates everything from rock, funk, R&B and orchestral pop while introducing eastern flourishes to give his own ‘Sands Of Tarita’ shades of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Kashmir’.

In an age where musical genres collide and explode with increasing rapidity, it’s easy to have a genre-hopping sound, but it is harder to make those pieces fit together in a cohesive whole. Yet, Carl seems to be one of those rare alchemists who can make blue-eyed reggae (‘A Little Bit Of Heaven’) nestle next to the bossa beat of ‘So Seville Good’ and not raise an eyebrow at the sonic shift. Aesthetically, Grand Boulevard reminds me of Frank Sinatra’s Come Fly With Me: as that record took the listener on a musical spin around the globe, so does Grand Boulevard, and transports us to Brazil (‘Margarita’), blue collar America (‘Another Day’) and Weimar Germany (‘Lily’). While it is not a concept record per se, it nevertheless has a thread stitching it together, no matter what twist or turn it takes. However, this album works best when Carl rocks out, and there’s plenty of speaker-smokin’ action in ‘Wait’, the neat guitar cycle on ‘The Reckoning’, and the muscular ‘You’re Wrong (Dead Wrong)’. However, it’s a power ballad that brings the album to a thoughtful conclusion in the shape of ‘Love Never Dies’, and provides a soft landing after our amazing journey.

After his early forays into the realms of music, Carl explored other avenues before coming full circle and returning to his first love with Grand Boulevard, and it is a very welcome return.

  • Grand Boulevard is released on 28th April 2023.

Track List:

  1. You’re Gonna Be Right
  2. Dead Ballet
  3. Ready, Aim, Fire
  4. Sands Of Tarifa
  5. Lily
  6. Forever With You
  7. A Little Bit Of Heaven
  8. So Seville Good
  9. Simple Song
  10. Gin With Alice
  11. Margarita
  12. Another Day
  13. Wait
  14. The Reckoning
  15. You’re Wrong (Dead Wrong)
  16. Love Never Dies