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Pardon the late review of this album, as it came out in November 2014. But I just became acquainted with it, having previously been unaware of its existence. And given that it was released on an Italian label, and sung entirely in Italian, it’s doubtful many other U.S. denizens have heard about it either. Couple that with the artist’s non-descript, Google-unfriendly moniker of Ed, and anyone not named Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot might have a hard time finding it even if they were seeking it out. That said, “Ed” is indie-pop practitioner Marc Ed, who hails from Modena, Italy (also the birthplace of Luciano Pavarotti; talk about setting the bar high for your city’s wannabe singers!). I liked Ed’s three-song, English-sung 2011 Lights On, Lights Out EP, calling his voice “winsome and affecting” in issue 69. (The EP even led to a U.S. East Coast tour.) Since then, he’s released 2012’s Desert Beyond EP and the oddly-titled full-length One Hand Clapping (Or the LP with One Sound), both also in English. But for whatever reason, Ed decided to record this newest album in his native tongue. And despite my not being able to understand a lick of the lyrics, I was hooked like a famished fish on one listen.
For starters, Meglio Soli (its title translates to Better Alone) has fuller production and lusher arrangements than his previous releases. The sensitive “La Mole di Lavoro è Relativa” and the sparkling “L’abitudine Fa L’uomo Ladro” are saturated with shimmering guitars, succulent strings, and sighing backing vocals, while the somber “In Difetto” sweeps you up in its waltz-like splendor. Each is elevated by Ed’s captivating croon, which has a more natural romance, resonance, and rhythm that comes from intoning in his indigenous Italian. (I felt the same about Madrid, Spain singer Pepo Marquez on his band The Secret Society’s superb 2011 Spanish-language LP Peores Cosas Pasan en el Mar, which followed two stripped-down, mostly English-sung albums.) On the sumptuous closer “Tre Volte,” you can imagine yourself being serenaded by Ed aboard a gondola on a starlit, summer Venice evening, as scores of violins surround you.
Thanks to his competent band and a keen command of pop styles, Ed shifts gears as effortlessly as Mario Andretti. He ups the volume on crunchy, clamorous rock numbers like the Nirvana-esque “Avvoltoio” and the Velvet Underground-inspired “A Modo Mio.” And on the jangly, jubilant, Smiths-like opener “Scenario,” guitar chords chime so cheerfully, you’d think he hired Johnny Marr to stand in. In short, there was not a second on this LP I wanted to skip. Perhaps the next step will be to acquire a translated lyric sheet, to find out what Ed’s singing about. But for now, I’m just happy to bask in Meglio’s beauty, as lovely as a late afternoon Tuscany landscape. (tirrenodischi.it)
Purchase Meglio Soli on iTunes
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