Don Conoscenti

Paradox of Grace

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The dynamic multi-instrument folk production on Paradox of Grace provides a sharp contrast to Don Conoscenti's previous album, Mysterious Light. That record was truly a solo effort, its every track performed by Conoscenti alone with nothing but an acoustic guitar. With Paradox, Conoscenti takes his other instruments out of storage and invites a few friends over to jam. The result an album that is just as thoughtfully crafted and even more engaging than its predecessor. Conoscenti plays banjo, dobro, piano, didgeridoo, pan pipes, flutes, bass, and kalimba, as well as 12-string and steel guitars, creating a rich Western folk sound that almost always sounds organic rather than slick or artificial. The only track that makes significant use of electric guitar is a snappy new folk-pop version of "Drink Another Round," a catchy tune from Mysterious Light that Conoscenti wrote with his talented friends Ellis Paul and Chris Nekvinda. Paul is the chief collaborator on Paradox, providing prominent harmony vocals on so many tracks that the album almost seems a two artist project. On two tracks (the brililant guitar piece "Burren" and the Woody Guthrie cover "Vigilante Man") Paul even sings lead. The soaring elasticity of his tenor is a perfect foil for Conoscenti's earthier baritone, and the pair work in Simon and Garfunkle tandem throughout the record. The duo project a sort of liberated virtuosic energy on Paradox of Grace, which is all the more enjoyable because it comes after the thoughtful restraint of Mysterious Light.

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