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Folk Italian

Diomedee
Diomedee
By Livio Guardi and Wilson Montuori

Self-released: 2003

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This review first appeared in the Spring 2004 issue of Turbula.

Think of an Italian version of the British folk movement of the '60s, and you have a fairly good handle on what Livio Guardi and Wilson Montuori are all about. It's kind of like Fairport Convention or Pentangle in Italian.

As those groups did (and their former members are still doing), Italian-Americans Livio Guardi and Wilson Montuori look to European folk traditions for their style and instrumentation. While performing, for the most part, new compositions of their own, the songs largely have a sound drawn from the past – from Medieval times through the Renaissance.

Guardi's singing voice is actually more like that of Al Stewart or Alan Hull, the late lead singer for Lindisfarne – another band from the British '70s folk movement. Warm, rich and resonant, Guardi's voice lends this album much of its charm.

Montuori plays acoustic guitar and mandolin; Guardi banjo, guitar, ukelele, bouzouki and harmonica. The are joined by bass, flute and percussion, keeping the sound intimate. The musicianship is virtuosic, but grounded – showing off chops never comes before the music.

While the singing is all in Italian, on some of the songs there are definitely influences from beyond that peninsula. "Esmeralda," for instance, closes out with a Spanish flamenco theme. "Bossa Triste Metropolitana" is a sort of Brazil-on-the-Mediterranean riff. And "Il Pescatore" (The Fisherman) has almost an American country-western feel to it.

And yet, it all still fits together quite well. There's a leftover hippie sense of exploration and unity here that ties everything together, that gives it an idealism to match its musical attractions.