Album Review: Serazzi & La Cucina – A La Carte (Italy) – “Paolo Conte meets Pink Martini”

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It’s fun. It’s classy. It’s got the gravelly voice. It’s got the Italian style. It’s got lyrics inspired by Nobel-Prize-winning writer Italo Calvino. It takes itself, appropriately for a band called ‘The Kitchen’, with a fairly large pinch of salt.

For its ingredients Serazzi & La Cucina’s A La Carte draws from a whole range of genres from Balkan to tango and funk; variety is the key. You can imagne the band looking in the fridge and throwing together an improvised stir-fry or going all out with unorthodox pizza toppings. In fact you don’t need to imagine that scene. It’s all on Youtube in the video of the first track…

The catchy Come Una Rumba, is, well, like a rumba. A catchy rumba.
Con un Salto, means With a Jump, not with salt.
The third track initially comes across as the cheese plate. On first listen it’s like a full-fat soft cheese that has been left rather long. But on second listens it melts in the mouth, to be enjoyed, slightly guiltily.
Balkan comes replete with lalalas to lalala along to. At last one where Italian isn’t a must! The lyrics on the album generally¬† seem to be worth learning Italian for, or at least using Google Translate. Wish I could understand more.
Finalement is a pure tango tea dance. But about civil society? strawberries? Not sure.
Paolo Serazzi’s aforementioned gravelly voice comes to the fore in Mondo Mejor, A Better World. OK, I got that. It’s Italian-ballad-tastic with plenty of space between the few words, a la Conte.
Se Ritorno Qui starts with some beat box turning into a funky little number with acid jazz pretensions, though the solos for me are a bit too straight-up jazz.
Latin returns to the table with a slower Cuban son rhythm and brightly harmonious chorus, followed by circus-polka-Can Can vibes in Laundrette Soap.
Il Portiere Fosco is another tango ballad. Lots of lyrics. Definitely need to learn Italian. But I prefer the continuity of one language rather than the multilingual antics of world-beating Pink Martini, a band with a similar musical approach. Oh, it’s about a goalkeeper (portiere). Of course; it’s an Italian album.
Nove Ore Nine Hours has the line dormo com un bimbo, sleep like a baby. Wish my 4-month-old would sleep 9 hours. It grooves darkly and doowhops almost Manhatten Transfer style.

To sum up? Paolo Conte meets Pink Martini? Can’t be bad!

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