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Bakelite 78 / Press

“Bakelite 78, "What the Moon Has Done" (Bakelite) Rial...has taken a leap with his new CD, a highly-arranged concept album brimming with bravura trumpet, dark tales of woe and Brechtian menace. Without seeing the jacket notes, you'd think the material had been retrieved from old records, but, remarkably, Rial and his musical partner, vocalist Erin Jordan, wrote these songs. They have an uncanny ability to get their heads inside antique styles. Bakelite doesn't just do old music, it seems to inhabit the past. "Monongah," a minor lament with stunning trumpet lines, regales that West Virginia mining disaster like it happened last week, "Tale of a Missouri Girl" revisits the midwest-lass-goes-to-Hollywood story line with affectionate good humor; and the macabre "World's Fair Hotel," in the voice of 1893 World's Fair serial killer, H.H. Holmes, resonates eerily. Tom Waits, anyone? Scary stuff, and though overarranged here and there, the music is delivered with conviction and panache. ”

““…Rial, in shiny gray tux, bow tie, burgundy cummerbund, silver shoes and towering top hat, has a voice that goes from sleepy-balladeer tenor to a neo-Tom Waits growl with the turn of a phrase. He can certainly belt it out — but he can be silky-voiced, too, as he lilts his way through musical fare that ranges from New Orleans-flavored ragtime to gypsy tunes to Depression-era classics (“Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”). And there’s a gleefully macabre edge to some of his original tunes."”

““The first thing that knocked me back was Robert Rial’s voice. He has the voice of an intinerant minstrel: solid, strong, down-home yet with a range and timbre applicable to a stunning variety of occasions. He sounds like a crooner fronting a ragtime band on “When it’s Darkness on the Delta” and conjures the ghost of the legendary Phil Ochs on “Brown Recluse Girl”… this isn’t a compliment I throw around lightly. (Do note that the woodwind work on this track does help invoke the spirit of the late Ochs.) In between Rial exhibits his deftness with whatever blues, jazz, country or folk is thrown at him.””