Vinicio Capossela

Da Solo

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Vinicio Capossela has often been described as Italy's answer to Tom Waits, an influence that is plain to see in any of his impressive albums, and certainly not missing from Da Solo. To be precise, it is not the entire Waits catalog that Capossela re-creates in his own idiosyncratic way. He is seldom interested in the cacophonous experimentation of Bone Machine, or the strictly nightclub balladeer of the early years. Rather, what Capossela takes from Waits is an interest in revamping ethnic dances of various origins (mostly Central Europe, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean) in a stunningly original fashion, thanks to the use of a mixture of traditional and electronic instruments and a romantic outcast lyrical vision. Da Solo is certainly less adventurous than its highly rated predecessor, 2006's Ovunque Proteggi, as it put the reins on staggering sonic variation to favor instead a more classic piano-led ballad format. This makes for an album that is easier to listen to at first, but ultimately not as exciting, as too many tracks sound alike. Da Solo is a melancholic roundabout trip set to circus music played languidly: the soundtrack of an Emir Kusturica film as if performed by Paolo Conte -- arguably the Italian artist Capossela is most indebted to. Capossela's tales are alternatively naïve, touching, humorous, and desolate. A sense of tender frailty emanates from these songs, as they seamlessly oscillate between a childhood's sense of wonder and a lonely adulthood's quiet desperation: for instance, the opening "Il Gigante e il Mago" or "Il Paradiso dei Calzini," a bizarre and yet strangely moving song about misplaced socks unable to find their matching pair. As mentioned, Da Solo loses steam along the way, not because of a drop in Capossela's largely impeccable songwriting, but because of a certain uniformity of tone. Perhaps this is why the songs that end up leaving the most lasting impression are those placed at the beginning of the record, such as the disarming "In Clandestinità" and the buoyant "Una Giornata Perfetta," which magically re-creates the old panache of a Fred Buscaglione or a Domenico Modugno. Pure class Italian style, in other words.

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