Folk Songs from Sicily

Matilde Politi

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Folk Songs from Sicily Review

by Chris Nickson

Singer and multi-instrumentalist Politi has spent almost a lifetime investigating the music of her native Sicily. The results -- both traditional and original compositions -- are here, all very raw and percussive. While some seem very basic, others have a more contemporary, jazzy touch. But throughout there's a sense of rootedness that typifies all regional material, in this case very Mediterranean, which means some Arabic influences underpinning rhythms and melodies. She's a powerful vocalist, but one also capable of subtlety -- just listen to the inflections on "Rucairuci," for instance. Her small band produces a large sound, but also knows when to hold back (credit Politi for the arrangements). What's especially interesting is that the new material sits very easily alongside the traditional songs, which often sound surprisingly modern (witness "Ringo," which is not about the Beatle). This style has passed out of fashion, as is the case with so much folk music, and resurrecting gives us a vital link to the past.

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