Songlines 2015, UK

Nun te vutà

Nun te Vutà (Don’t look back) is the fourth recording by a brilliant outfit of north-eastern US residents, four of them Italians, who grab southern Italian traditional music by the neck and recast it in a dramatic style. Neapolitan lyrics, whirling pizzica from Salento and gorgeous Basilicata paesant songs and tarantella dances are presented with vital rhytmic sparks and inspired arrangements infused with Arabic, Turkish, Greek and Renaissance influences. The album contains 12 tracks - half of them traditional and half original songs - sensitively dealing with contemporary issues, such as the new drifts in Italian emigration since the burst of the recent economic crisis. Compelling vocals are exhibited by two female singers (Angela Rossi and Carmen Marsico) with occasional vocal interventions by percussionist Fabio Pirozzolo (notably in the excellent opening title-track). The octet have a skilled understanding of the tradition’s intruments - mandola and chitarra battente (lutes), castanets, recorders, ciaramella (oboe) and zampogna (bagpipe), guitars, accordion, fiddle, friction drum and frame drums. But they also integrate Renaissance guitar, lyra, oud, acoustic and electric bass. The remarable pieces include the lashing ‘Bazaar’, which perfectly conveys the band’s spirit; the powerful, southern Mediterranean-tingled ‘Fronni D’alia’; and the poignant ‘Sciure D’arance’, whose lyrics are based on a 19th-century emigration poem.
A worthy, tasteful disc.
- Ciro de Rosa