Vincent Segal, Piers FacciniOne of the hardest albums I've had to try to capture in words, this simple set of short songs has a worldwide reach, a sense of history, simple beauty and a strange charm.

Label: Six Degrees
Time: 13 tracks / 41 mins.

One of the hardest albums I've had to try to capture in words, the short songs on this one have a simple beauty and a strange, timeless charm.

It is acoustic, organic and often rooted in the past. Singer and guitarist Faccini has married into a Neapolitan family and this disc includes such Italian pieces as the opening lament "Jesce Sole," whose lyrics come from a 13th century salutation to the sun; "Villanella Di Cenerentola," with a 16th century text; "Cammina Cammina," a comparatively recent song by the singer Pino Daniele; and "Dicitencello Vuje," romantic enough for him to sing it to his wife when they first met.

But there are also pieces more suited to American ears, whether Townes van Zandt's waltz "Quicksilver Daydreams of Maria," the country blues of "Make me a Pallet on your Floor," or a dance based on a New Orleans-inspired riff ("Cradle to the Grave").

We have covered several of cellist Segal's works (see links below) where he has collaborated primarily with Malian musicians, something echoed in the rhythms of the Alaine Peters song "Mangé Pou le Coeur" (Peters comes from the island La Réunion, east of Madagascar). Segal has made an art of using the cello's full range to complement other musicians. Here that means a warm drone under the vocals to "A Half of Me", a couple of high plucks early on in the song, and a brief, gentle solo halfway through. No wonder Faccini comments, "I love writing new songs just to see what Vincent will come up with when we play them together for the first time."

Segal clearly loves working with other artists with whom he has built a friendship, and just as his playing adds enormously to Faccini's offering, Faccini's own smoky, unpretentious voice beautifully complements the age of some of these songs.

This is one of those releases where the front cover actually conveys something of the atmosphere. Relaxed, uncluttered and bathed in lamplight, it is a lovely collection of songs with a worldwide reach. Play it for early evening atmosphere with a glass of wine, or while sitting and letting your eyes drift aimlessly over a beautiful view for forty minutes.

Derek Walker

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