Saro Cosentino, along with a guest list to die for, on a classy piece of Italian Art Rock.
Release Date: 8th November 2022
Label: Cat Sounds
Format: digital / CD / LP
There’s something about Italy. James May (Our Man In Italy) in his search for La Dolce Vita, barely touched on the musical contribution of a nation for which opera and Prog Rock are less indulgent passions and more a way of life.
Italian composer and producer Saro Cosentino has fingers in both pies (or feet in both camps – depending on which cliche you prefer). Fingers delicately manicured and feet shod in bespoke suede loafers obviously. His address book too, seems to be packed with only the finest musical compadres. Perhaps why on his third solo album he can place a call to singers Peter Hammill (on four songs), Tim Bowness (of No-Man) and Karen Eden, while pulling in plus instrumental contributions from the likes of Gavin Harrison, David Rhodes, John Giblin and Trey Gunn.
The breadth of his background in Blues, experimental and electronic music, soundtracks and production all bear fruit on The Road To Now. It’s an apt title as just over half an hour’s worth of music across eight tracks gives a convincing precis of his path.
We’re immediately offered the fruits of his labour with You Are The Story and an encounter with the instantly recognisable breathy tones of Tim Bowness. The song being Tim’s second collaboration with Saro written over twenty years since they first worked together, yet probably felt like no time had passed at all. It’s easy to pick the piece as the highlight as it sets the tone with a languid and careful arrangement that’s both delicate and lush. Bowness is also on backing for November, one of four tracks where another name common to the address books of both, Peter Hammill steps up to showcase with his genuinely unique voice.
In particular, there’s an outstanding emotional quality to Time To Go that contemplates the end of the road. The drip of piano notes, visions of our own mortality, the end of life’s journey and alongside the late night ambient nostalgia of When Your Parents Danced, “before life’s stories made them what they’ve become,” is nakedly insightful. Simply perfect fodder, bread and butter, for the emotional clout that Peter Hammill brings to the table. Accompanied by an achingly mournful soundtrack, it’s enough to be within a gnat’s whisker of breaking point.
To redress the balance which hangs heavily on the side melancholia, as telling as it is, Australian singer Karen Eden adds a touch of friendlier pop with Us (Scars On Skin) that quite rightly, contrasts with her sombre Pray. Perhaps. a touch of the Cosentino Europop from the past resurfacing to make a mark? As the lyric says, it’s the diamond in the rough. A respite from the stark reality and the instrumental sharpness that comes on the collaboration with Trey Gunn.
It’s a far cry from his Eurovision days of 1984 but particularly with Bowness and Hammill on board and on point, Saro Cosentino has used his personnel wisely to create an absorbing and at times, spine tingling piece of work.
Here’s the gorgeous You Are The Story: