It must be difficult selling a foreign-language album into the already saturated market of English-speaking releases, sure we all like an occasional ‘Gangnam Style’ or ‘Despasito’ to shake it up, but on the whole English-speaking music fans like English speaking bands. So, to combat this, the music has to be good. Duke Ellington once said, “there are two kinds of music, the good and the other kind”, this is true, and it’s also true that good music will always find an audience, so if you feel your record collection is lacking a Sicillian singer-songwriter who produces music that is tricky to categorise, then look no further than Alessio Bondi.
In parts Jeff Buckley and at other times showing similarities to Santana and the lyrical vulnerability of Damien Rice, his music covers gypsy jazz, folk, flamenco, funk and ballads but all with a style and command you would expect from somebody who is obviously a fan, and student, of these genres.
The real stroke of genius to this album is the arrangements of the songs, the band do a wonderful job of tackling the varying moods of the album. There is a core band of drums, guitar and bass, but he manages to add ‘guest’ instruments such as brass, electric guitar and all manner of percussion to bring variation, and interest, to the recording.
Track one, ‘Ghidara’, plays out like an unplugged Jamiroquai and shows the listener exactly what to expect, before the curve balls of Indian-influenced ‘Dammi Una Vasata’ and flamenco-based ‘L’Amuri Miu Pi Tia’ play out, there are moments of quiet reflection too, but my lack of knowledge of the Sicilian language means I can’t comment on the lyrics – these could be the most poetic lyrics ever sung, and I wouldn’t know.
It’s an interesting album with some good songs and a glimpse into what is happening outside the vast bubble of English-speaking acts and, who knows, maybe even the great Duke Ellington would have liked it.