[Review] Barbara Rubin – “The Shadows Playground (Piano Works)”

Barbara Rubin is an Italian singer-songwriter and poly-instrumentalist with 3 albums under her belt, all self-produced from composition to mastering, and in which the artist delicately expresses all the facets that make up her sound. “The Shadows Playground (Piano Works)” published in 2020 continues with refinement the musical discourse undertaken in previous works. In this album Barbara plays as always different instruments, keyboards, drums, bass, guitar, viola, violin and solo voice supported, as in the previous work, by Andrea Giolo on vocals and choirs. Composed of 9 medium-length tracks, the album opens with “Endless Hope” which begins with voice and piano, sweet warm and expressive melodies that increase in intensity with the entry of the violin and the second voice. A good opener that immediately immerses us in the atmosphere of the disc. “Seven” has a structure mainly performed on the piano with an effected and deep vocal. Also in the second part, with the entry of the second voice and the rhythmic session, the intensity increases, showing the artist’s more Prog influences. “La Maddalena” is the longest song on the album and tells a sweet story related to the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. The piano is always the protagonist of the melodies, with a pleasant intertwining of voices and a development of the theme between more symphonic and melancholic openings and other softer and sweeter with the help of string instruments. Excellent vocal test, really over the top for one of the hottest tracks on the disc. “Clouds” is instead the shortest track just over 1:30 minutes, however a very emotional passage as it is dedicated to the singer-songwriter’s mother. “Sunrise Promenade” where the melodic intertwining of piano, viola and violin creates a poignant atmosphere full of pathos, entirely instrumental and with a truly high-level theme development. It’s time for the title track “The Shadows Playground” which begins with a soft and delicate piano and then halfway increases the intensity with the entry of the vocal. The song then develops with a rhythmic session that transforms the theme into a Celtic/Folk ballad with that songwriting vein that distinguishes Barbara’s sound.
As you can guess from the text, “Sleeping Violin” sees the violin as the main protagonist, on layers of piano and viola also here with melancholic melodies but really impressive. The artist shows familiarity with all the instruments played, always creating sound combinations like in this case where the emotional load is really high. Also in “La Ballata Degli Angeli” the violin is in the foreground with melodies in this case, always on good piano rugs, more baroque and classic, a mix of power and unique delicacy. The album “Helen’s Word” closes with the presence of another guest, the soprano Veronica Fasanelli. Another classic-inspired song where the 3 voices interact perfectly with each other and with deep and incisive music. A job that requires careful listening to grasp all the nuances and ideas present, full of pathos and full of emotions from start to finish. A pleasant sound journey, in which the artist shows himself at ease with all the instruments played, and in the vocal intertwining with the male voice. In my opinion, this album can be appreciated by an audience both of Prog and cabtautorale matrix and of a classical style, offering sounds that sublime mix these 3 genres.


Face A: Endless Hope – Seven – La Maddalena – Clouds – Sunrise Promenade
Face B: The Shadows Playground – Sleeping Violin – La Ballata degli Angeli – Helen’s Word


Barbara Rubin / Solo voice, choirs, viola, violin, piano and synthesizers, guitar, bass and drums.
Andrea Giolo / Solo voice and choirs.
Veronica Fasanelli: Voice in the polyphonic choir of “Helen’s Word”

Barbara Rubin |Facebook Page|Spotify|

Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

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