Daniele Silvestri


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It took Daniele Silvestri four years to finally put together another collection of new material, and yet S.C.O.T.C.H. sounds more like a transitional album than a full-fledged statement. On the surface, there is little to distinguish this from previous Silvestri works. He is still stylistically all over the place, gently but restlessly genre hopping through a variety of world rhythms including rhumba, funk, reggae, ska, rock, French chanson, jazz balladry, Latin American folk music, and perhaps most of all, Roman popular songs: the stornello tradition runs deep in him, indeed. Silvestri, however, has a light touch and tends to hint at all those genres, rather than overindulge in soundalike exercises. The focus of all the arrangements lies almost invariably in showcasing Silvestri's canny delivery and fondness for witty wordplay. No need to understand Italian to realize that phrases like "Il fatto è che l'effetto/ dell'affetto si riflette/sull'affitto che di fatto/tu non paghi affatto/Infatti te ne fotti" must sound like a deluxe F & T tongue twister; the song is appropriately called "Fifty-Fifty," by the way. At any rate, it is hard to pinpoint what exactly is wrong with S.C.O.T.C.H., but for all of its intelligent songs -- and that's virtually every one of them -- it stills feels like a bit of a letdown after the triumphs that were 2002's Unò-Dué and 2007's Il Latitante. For starters, it seems to lack any obviously exceptional songs or hits that lift the entire album, such as "Salirò" or "La Paranza." There are a few terrifically complicated relationship ballads such as "Sornione" and "L'acqua Stagnante," but not enough to prevent the flow from becoming meandering: too many styles, too many songs, too many words, and in the second half of the album, too many guests (a first for Silvestri). These range from Avion Travel's Peppe Servillo to crime fiction writer Andrea Camilleri, not to mention a legend such as Gino Paoli, who graciously appears as himself in a parody of his 1960 classic "La Gatta," rewritten by Silvestri as "La Chatta" with lyrics about a defunct internet site. S.C.O.T.C.H. is by no means a bad album, but lacks focus and spark, and most definitely feels weary. One suspects that Silvestri is sharing in the overwhelming feeling of depression that has affected many of his fellow citizens due to the appalling current state of affairs in Italy. References abound, expressed both at the personal and the political levels, yet perhaps the most explicit one was not written by Silvestri himself, but by the late Giorgio Gaber, whom Silvestri, in another unprecedented gesture, chooses to cover with "Io Non Mi Sento Italiano." Written in 2003, it is, sadly, chillingly pertinent to virtually any given time in Italian history since 1945. The fact that someone as talented and logorrheic as Silvestri cannot seem to find his own words to talk about the 2011 situation speaks volumes about its seriousness.

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