Gabriele Muscolino’s self-titled album is a warm acoustic recording from Italian singer-songwriter, who while singing in his native language, which, given a belief in Jungian collective unconscious archetypes, sings to the musical soul of folk lovers across the globe.
A couple of ideas:
I don’t speak a word of Italian, yet I love this record.
By the way, credit must be given to my Italian friend, Elena Scarani, who translated all the titles for me, so as to eliminate typing errors, a lot of red lines under song titles, and, of course, my computer’s confused spell check system (to quote Shakespeare and the King James Bible!) in its desire to “give up the ghost”.
I love the song ‘Siberian Khatru’ by Yes (with English lyrics!), but I have no idea what the words, “River runnin’ right on over the outboard/River, blue tail, tail fly, Luther, in time” actually mean.
But all music flows from the same source. And as (the great) Garth Hudson of The Band, once said, in the book The Top 100 Canadian Albums, about his piano playing of the seminal song ‘The Weight’, “I remember trying to get this feeling, a bit of this Serbo-Croatian polka band feeling, oonk-ka, oonk-ka, and it was tricky”.
So, let’s just quote Dorothy when she says, “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore”. Or, as the Google Italian Translator says, “Toto, non credo che siamo piu in Kansas”.
Now, to the music– which is very fine. A lovely violin and cello caress the first song, ‘Paradise’. Then Gabrielle’s expressive voice sings the certain melody, until, and this is a big deal, Angelika Pedron enters with wonderful backing vocals that flit with an (almost) dissonant harmony. To get all international about the sound, it recalls, obviously in its own Italian manner, the very wonderful sound of early Malicorne, the very great French folk band, with the dual voices of Gabriel and Marie Yacoub.
Ditto for other songs. ‘Black Magnolia’ almost sounds like an early Ralph McTell tune. ‘The Boy Who Climbed Trees’ is pensive as an acoustic guitar, violin, accordion, and more Angelika vocals frame the melody. ‘New Year’ is mandolin urgent. And the vocals get pleasantly weird—almost evoking the sound of Frifot’s Lena Willemark, from (of all places) Sweden. Indeed, music springs from an eternal well.
As my friend, Kilda Defnut, often says, “Perhaps life is simply a soundtrack to a Jungian collective unconscious archetype”. And then, as she always adds, “That sort of explains the incongruous popularity of Neil Young”.
That said, there’s more really nice singer-songwriter stuff. ‘The Boy Who Climbed Trees’ is simple and deeply passionate with an acoustic guitar, accordion, violin and, once again, the sympathetic backing vocals which colour the tune. ‘The Glass Of The Sea’ plucks a jittery vibe. Once more, Angelika’s singing punctuates Gabriele’s melodic voice, and a violin cuts through the folky vibe. That drama is juxtaposed to the fluid (and quite joyous!) ‘New Year’. Then, ‘I’ll Let Myself Fall’ returns to a simple acoustic sound—with a melody that inhabits that moment in any folk album in which the singer finds a very private place and sings with that portrait of sad and beautiful solitude. This song may be the heart of the album.
Now, it’s just an idea, but this Italian folk album is given the dubious term, “world music”, but that’s just not fair. Any Bert Jansch album would never be given that tag. This is just wonderful singer-songwriter music.
That also said, ‘The Explorer’ is precise, like a clever folk club chess move. ‘You And 10’ continues with an (almost) cabaret pulse that haunts the spectral night. It’s an odd and interesting variance. The same is true for ‘Minnie’, which drifts in the wind that brushes the Italian folk-hearted violin blessed countryside.
The final tune, ‘The Best’, gets down and dirty into the back-alley folk song that’s just another circle dance that pledges its pulse to folk people – who sing in sundry languages – yet, like any Neil Young song, somehow manages to be a soundtrack to the collective unconscious that always sings a delightful Carl Jungian archetypal melodic folk song, with a “true Serbian-Croatian polka band feeling”, and an “oonk-ka oonk-ka” in its universal soul. And, yeah, that’s always quite the “tricky” thing to do.
Artist’s website: https://www.gabrielemuscolino.it/
‘Paradiso’ – official video: