The Australian 2015, Australia

NEWPOLI
Nun te vutà

Italian emigration past and present — the inspiration behind Newpoli’s fourth album — is a theme the octet is eminently well qualified to tackle. Nun te Vuta adds a handful of self-compositions on the subject to the previously all-traditional repertoire of a band that was specifically formed, more than a decade ago, by homesick expatriate students at Boston’s famed Berklee College of Music to perform folk songs from southern Italy. The verses of the opening title track, which translates as "Don’t Look Back", enunciate in Neapolitan the sadness of leaving home, while a contrastingly energetic chorus emphasises the sense of future hopes engendered by living in a new country. Traditional music still provides Newpoli’s heartbeat, the new and old blending like a well-made pizza.

Tambourines, tamburello and other Italian percussion instruments propel frenzied pizzica 12/8 and 6/8 dance time tarantellas from the band’s Basilicata and Puglia homelands that date back to the 15th century. An infectious tune written by Newpoli’s accordionist — a key player in any Italian folk band — is among the standout instrumentals. Elsewhere, the band’s crystalline-voiced twin female lead singers take the ear, backed by a combination of expertly played string and wind instrumentation that includes mandola, violin, ocarina and zampona. Arabic oud and doumbek drum adorn several songs, betraying influences from other parts of the Mediterranean.
Newpoli might exercise a more restrained, Renaissance-inflected approach than comparable outfits, but their music exudes subtlety and depth as well as excitement.
- Tony Hillier