Sunday, February 19, 2012

In review--Sun, Sand and Songs from Sicily

Matilde Politi
Folk Songs from Sicily
Arc Music

I adore folk songs from Italy, especially when musicians play the songs on traditional and acoustic instruments, as they appear on Sicilian folk musician Matilde Politi’s Folk Songs from Sicily.  I also adore women’s voices as they sing folkloric material. I have a collection that fits that bill.  I could spend years exploring folk songs from the Mediterranean and still not scratch the surface.  For now, let’s take a look at the delightful Folk Songs from Sicily.

This warm production features accordion, a variety of percussion including frame drums and North African drums (not surprising), strings, guitar, the Arabic oud, double bass, concertinas, and other instruments.  While these instruments provide a lush and exotic backdrop, Politi’s voice grabs my attention.  On laments such as My Son (Figghui Miu), Politi pulls out vocal colors from a diverse palette and she shows off her vocal range, which to me is impressive. On the homage to a town, From Santaninfa, again the vocalist delivers hearty vocals, this time over swirly circus-like accordion. If you enjoy circus-like or waltz-like melodies then listen to Ringo (A Sea Shanty).  As a songwriter, Politi has a passion for saving the planet.  We hear her pleas for the planet on My Son, and on Mother Earth (Matri Terra), in which this heartfelt lament should wake listeners up to the plight of this planet.  I emphasize the word should.

I have listened to music from Italy’s many provinces and Sardinia in the past decade, but music from Sicily is new to my ears.  I would like to explore this music further in the future since it has ties to North Africa, Spain, the Middle East, and other European countries as all the islands between Italy and France do, given their prime location.  Cultural Creatives would have a ball with this recording.  It features stories, soaring melodies, and exquisite vocals over a backdrop of traditional instruments.  What’s not to love?

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