I shouldn’t be that surprised that a man with his feet planted so firmly in Italian soil can sound so authentically part of the American music canon, after all, the development of a musical style is the story of influence and influx, old traditions and new beginnings, movement and melding. And if Americana music is built from the music of the Western Mediterranean just as much as it is myriad other components, why shouldn’t it find its way home again.
Normally found leading the long-established Mandolin Brothers, this is Jimmy’s first solo album though listening to it you could be forgiven for thinking that it is the product of a musician who can push such albums out as a matter of course. Stripping things back to an acoustic guitar led quintet, it is built on wonderfully layered textures, deft interplays and percussive acoustica rather than the drums and drama he is normally surrounded with.
It tips hats to stalwarts of the American songbook, via covers by Dylan and Guy Clark, but mainly from its ability to offer up songs that feel as if they are long forgotten folk standards, outlaw country classics and chilled blues album tracks that have been wrongly overshadowed by more obvious hits.
The ghost of Townes Van Zandt hovers over the albums swansong, In A Better Life, and 24 Weeks channels the same commercial vibe meets cult classic that John Mellencamp was so good at knitting together. But more than anything it is the natural musical outpour of a man who has spent a life seeped in the country, blues, bluegrass and folk music traditions and who just wanted to add his contribution to the musical record. The only question is, as I said earlier, why did he wait so long?