David Ramos

Sento La Tua Mancanza

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The celebration and remembrance of grandparents passed is a subject that has motivated some fine music over many years -- Bill Withers' "Grandma's Hands" is just one example of many that could be named. On his 2012 album, Sento La Tua Mancanza, David Ramos takes the tack of exploring the loss of his own grandmother on a lengthy scale, with the entire album being a general study and remembrance of that loss. Ramos exhibits the kind of scattershot approach evident on earlier releases like This Up Here throughout, with sonic and lyrical touches hitting on everything from 21st century modern folk-pop to Kanye in 808s & Heartbreak mode to his now-lengthy background in indie rap beat creation. But the Arcade Fire might be the true avatar of what's here, if only due to the continuing reputation of Funeral and its own subject matter, as songs like "His Wishes," "Together," and "Tommy Flew," among others, demonstrate. But Ramos and collaborators including Oskar Ohlson and his Anonymous Inc. partners Max Heath and Ceschi aren't interested in just doing what so many other bands are, so in exchange for a slavish and serious pastiche, there's a swirling shift in instrumental tone and approach throughout the album, even as the subject matter can't help but be a reflection on a crushing blow. Songs like "First Photo," reflecting on discoveries made five months after his grandmother's death, and the grim details of "50 medicine bottles" in "Still There," help in sketching out the reach of the event beyond simply a remembrance -- there's a yearning for concreteness, perhaps better captured by Ramos' singing voice even when his rap verses dig in deep, especially on the moving "Hollow Days." Add the bubbling typewriter percussion on "His Wishes," the acoustic singalong conclusion of "Before We Go to Sleep," and the sense of trying to focus big emotions into precise moments to this album's quiet credit.

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