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Paolo Conte: Psiche

Album Notes

Psiche is the 13th studio album of Paolo Conte's 35-year career. Not exactly prolific, the former lawyer from Asti built an outstanding body of work between 1974 and 1990, but recorded sporadically after that. Like Joao Gilberto or Jimmy Scott, Conte is one of those artists who very early on created a unique style and persona, and never strayed too far from with it. Psiche thus resembles all of Conte's releases since 1992's 900: a set of 15 unimpeachable new songs that perpetuate the myth of Paolo Conte, but add little to it. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and Psiche is indeed a fine album. True, some may write off this record as an exercise in style. Yet style has always been exactly Conte's forte, and no one can possibly deny that he has it in spades. Old themes and characters are revisited (the theater, dancing, bicycle racing, fascinating women, European culture, American swing) and set to Conte's trademark smoky jazz ballad treatment. Perhaps the most distinctive element of Psiche is the abundant use of synthesizer sounds ("Il Quadrato e il Cerchio," "Bella di Giorno," "Omicron"), particularly as it comes on the wake of the acoustic return-to-roots implied on Elegia, Conte's superb 2004 album. The results, if not as individually memorable as those of the preceding album, give Psiche a sonic identity of its own that grows with the record. He may be past 70 and starting to show in his voice, but Paolo Conte remains a class act. ~ Mariano Prunes


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