When summer arrives, we all need some very good music to refresh our spirits and enjoy our leisure time. Lucky enough our favorite Sicilian singer Carmen Consoli has just announced her new North American tour that will bring her to Chicago, New York, Boston, Montreal and Toronto.
Not only. Her fans will finally be presented with a new album, "Elettra", being released in the US on the leading world music label Wrasse Records on June 15, 2010.
The seventh of her career, “Elettra,” debuted at number two on Italy’s national charts in November 2009 (right behind Michael Jackson's posthumous album release). In this new work, following the path of "Eva contro Eva" (2006), Carmen continues exploring the female universe, women’s lives and experiences, including their complicated relationships with men. This time she is inspired by Elektra, the Greek mythology heroine, that as she herself explained, is an "expedient to talk about the different aspects of love, might it be maternal, carnal, promiscuous, or spiritual".
A very concise album, 10 songs in some 40 minutes, "Elettra" is a powerful mixture of personal dramas and collective matters recounted with lucidity and expressive strength. Written and recorded in Sicily during the summer of 2009 "Elettra” is the most personal collection of songs in Carmen’s career employing Italian, Sicilian, Arabic and French languages and including a special duet with friend and mentor Franco Battiato, "Marie ti amiamo" (Marie we love you).
The album’s opening track, “Mandaci una cartolina” (Send Us a Postcard) is dedicated to the sudden death of her father Giuseppe, while in “Mio Zio” (My Uncle), she surprisingly denounces her uncle's abuses. For the courage she showed in writing such a song, Carmen was awarded the 2010 Amnesty International Italy prize.
The elaborated mixture of joy and sorrows traced in the album is sang both in Sicilian and in Italian with warmth, subtlety and vivid emotion.
Thought the "cantantessa" ( little female singer, as she defined herself some years ago) has said that words and stories are central to Elettra, the music is just as sophisticated and captivating as the lyrics. It is since at least three years, since the release of "Eva contro Eva", that Carmen's music is in continuous evolution as she managed to elaborate a sort of pan-Mediterranean folk-rock with acoustic guitars, mandolins, violins, accordions, bouzoukis, and even string quartets.
Carmen growth as a singer is also testified by the number of awards she received in the latest years: MTV Italian Music Award for Best Video (Parole di Burro - Buttery Words) in 2001; Best Female Artist at the Italian Music Awards in both 2002 and 2003 and Best Song at the Taormina Film Festival for the soundtrack of the international hit film (L’Ultimo Bacio - The Last Kiss). She also had another important recognition when nominated Artistic Director of the summer 2008 Etna Music World Festival in Sicily.
Throughout the years Carmen also distinguished herself in the musical panorama for the numerous social and political causes she got involved in.
In May 2006 Carmen was named a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF representing Italy then went on to headline the MTV Europe Foundation’s Exit concert in Vlore Albania, to benefit NGOs working against human trafficking in the European Union. In February 2005 Consoli was chosen to represent Italy at the Africa Unite concert in Ethiopia celebrating the 60th anniversary of Bob Marley's birth. She also participated in Quincy Jones' "We Are The Future" project, a live concert held at the Circus Maximus in Rome in May 2004, which was a fund-raiser to support children in war-torn cities.
Needless to say, all of this boosted her international popularity and made of her one of the most famous Italian contemporary singers worldwide.
The turning point of her American career, however, came in 2007 when Elvis Costello attended one of her concerts at Joe's Pub, New York. As quoted by Jim Bessman in Global Rhythm on March 13 2007, he remarked that Consoli “played more original musical ideas in her first three songs than most American, or for that matter, English bands manage in a whole evening”.
That demonstration of great esteem by such a popular singer-songwriter, drove the attention of the American media on Carmen, who started following with attention her career.
Defined "...a powerfully expressive vocalist, a superior melodicist, and a skillful if not virtuoso acoustic guitarist..." by the New York Rocker and “... a remarkable combination of rocker and intellectual ” by Jon Pareles of the The New York Times, Carmen is now the most looked at Italian singer in the US and her concerts are much waited for.
We at i-Italy are waiting for her performance in New York just as well. And you? If you are in the City, Boston, Chicago, Toronto, or Montreal don't waste your time and go buy your ticket and find out how you like the new "Elettra"!
What else to say? Welcome back "cantantessa"!
Tuesday June 15, 2010
Martyrs', Chicago IL
3855 N. Lincoln Ave.
8:00pm $18 adv. / $20 door
Opening act: Caravan of Thieves
Thursday June 17, 2010
(Le) Poisson Rouge, New York NY
158 Bleecker Street
7:00pm $25 adv. / $30 day of
Opening act: Jose Conde
Friday June 18, 2010
One Bennett Street, Cambridge MA
Saturday June 19, 2010
FrancoFolies de Montreal, Montreal QC
Place Loto-Québec Scène Loto-Québec
(Outdoor Stage @ Corner of De Montigny & Clark)
Sunday June 20, 2010
Mod Club Theatre, Toronto ON
722 College St.