The phrase “during these uncertain times” is being thrown around so much lately, and of course music escapism is the answer to all our problems. True in so many ways, but at the same time, much of the projects being released this month were likely created last year, if not longer. Frail Boats from Claudio Conti is prolific full-length with timely themes and cinematic harmonies. Conti’s artistic viewpoint is saturated with poetic tales and finely-tuned music.
Conti calls Italy home. According to his press materials, he’s lived in other cities (including America) and is a world-traveler. Frail Boats, an 11-track odyssey, is not his first album – he’s been recording and releasing music since 2008-2009 (Handmaids Skim The Marbl and Northern). In 2010 he became lead singer for Magic Salad and returned to solo work with Saltworks (Seahorse Recordings), and in 2017 he released Garnet Dusk.
Throughout Frail Boats, Conti changes moods and vibes. In “Wrest” the temperature is modern with flecks of folksy tones and an immense amount of deep-thinking lyrics. While songs like “Wrest” are more modern-sounding, songs like “A Distant Summer” have a moodier, almost brooding 60s folk rock approach. In the chirpy, “The Eyes Who Once Beheld The Reeds” it’s easy to slip away into his ‘doo-doo-doo’ and his lyric “the intensity of darkness” slides right above the percussion and the groovy organ sound. Again, that’s 60s vibe is heavy and Conti sort of sounds like Donovan (“Sunshine Superman”, “Mellow Yellow” etc.).
In “Pull The Strings”, The Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields” dissonance influences is heavy. Conti’s voice is romantic, melodic and tragic all at once. The percussion is a bit slower, the kick drum moving like a sloth. Conti is so poetic that it does require the listener to really focus on each word, each note. His sadness in “Pull The Strings” didn’t want to make me want to cry, but emotionally, it took me to some pensive thoughts.
“Late October” has some delicious rockabilly-sounding guitar riffs, wide a side of twang. This song rhythms has a lovely slow dance. Conti sings “I remember hills and lakes, her eyes were water…” in a velvety way. This song could easily be on any David Lynch movie soundtrack.
Track 10, “Delphic Hill” has this inescapable electronic percussion mesh. “Indifference delights and you were there, with lightly braided hair” is sung, alongside a melodic electric guitar. The song is very dream-like and I can’t help but feel like I’m falling down the rabbit hole with Alice herself; Conti’s wonderland is full of grays and purples in the bleak kaleidoscope. He redeems the song with slithers of yellows and oranges – his voice is just that lovely.
Claudio Conti defies genres and has this way of commandeering the listener’s attention with Frail Boats. The songs are all poetic masterpieces, with each song a dreamy escape and peculiar storyline. What takes shape by each chapter’s end is a better understanding of Conti’s whimsical musical mind. He’s not brash or bashful, but he’s serene and charismatic. Frail Boats is a captivating journey for the mind and soul.
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