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    by Paul Higham

There's a photo that I've just gone back to look at before sitting down to write this. It's the final plate in a CSNY photo special, a one off, pre internet, compilation of pictures and magazine covers produced by a team of "crazy Italians". In the picture, that same team perch, looking as if they are having the time of their lives, in front of Crosby, Stills and Nash. It was 1988, and the Italians were on a US road trip, following their musical heroes around with the same good natured enthusiasm that they at other times devoted to producing the fanzine "Wooden Nickel" and trading "collectables" on C90s. Wind forward 22 years, and the young man in the centre has taken that enthusiasm and channelled it into producing a real, live, album. Not a recorded in the bedroom and issued via the internet on mp3s effort, but a cohesive, sequenced, professionally played, engineered, produced physical thing. Say hello to singer, songwriter and guitar player Francesco Lucarelli and his album, "Find The Light".

First thing to say is that it's an album that wears its influences explicitly but lightly. It surprised me though that most of those influences seem to come from Jackson Browne's work, sometimes just in general feel and arrangement but sometimes also in the tone and style of a particular instrument; Jeff Pevar's Lindley-esque guitar on "Pictures On The Wall" for example. (The song, by the way, could be an outtake from "Late For The Sky"). Yes, there are guest slots from many of Francesco's famous friends - Jeff Pevar, Graham Nash, Kenny Passarelli, James Raymond and Sonny Mone all feature - but it is clear that these are intended to add colour, and not substance that would otherwise be missing, to Francesco's efforts. Take the opening track "Fat City"; here would have been the perfect opportunity to say "look! I have all these famous mates helping me out", yet the west coast sound is produced entirely by Francesco and his coterie of Italian musicians.

That said, Francesco is obviously as pleased as punch to have these contributors. Take the track "Mr Sunshine"; when he harmonises with Graham Nash I'd swear I could hear a smile in his voice (a clever trick as I guess they were several thousand miles apart when recording..). This track - I think a key one for Francesco - is given tone and colour not only from Mr Nash's attentions but also from the clever deployment of the cello, which also plays a key role on "If Trees Could Talk". Oh, and by the way, most of the rich harmonies that flow through the songs are courtesy of the Italian team.

And though not directly contributing as a player, Crosby is not too far away as an influence. "After The Twilight" features a jazz toned drum and piano intro that comes directly from the canon of the Croz. James Raymond plays on the track, which seems only right and proper. As with the cello on some of the other tracks, use of the oboe gives colour and atmosphere, supporting the reflective tone of the lyrics.

Another famous influence, Stephen Barncard, brings his mixing skills to bear, establishing the delicate balance between the vocals and the instruments. Not forgetting that Francesco has in the past brought his enthusiasm to the arena of the written word, Dave Zimmer contributes the introduction to the CD booklet; and that booklet is a fine piece of work in itself. However the presence of these famous folk would not be worth a damn if the basic material with which they were working wasn't so strong. As well as to Francesco's song writing, singing, guitar playing and production skills recognition must also be given to Italian crew - engineers, singers and players - who provided such a strong foundation. And a final tip of the hat to Francesco, for keeping going and keeping the faith whilst holding down a job and loving his family.

In summary, just like Francesco in that picture from 1988, I'm giving this a smile and big thumbs up.

Paul Higham, England


Thursday Dec. 1st, 2011
live at Aurora, Arezzo

Friday Nov. 25th, 2011
guest on Radio Capital (h.12)

Friday Nov. 11th, 2011
live at L'Archivio 14, Roma

Saturday Apr. 23rd, 2011
live at Faenas, Roma

Sunday Apr. 17th, 2011
live at Auditorium Parco della Musica, Roma - opening for America

Saturday Apr. 16th, 2011
Interview on Radio Radio, Roma, Italy

Saturday Mar. 26th, 2011
live at Neil Young Day in Reggio Emilia

Wednesday Mar. 16th, 2011
live at Faenas, Roma

Friday Mar. 11th, 2011
"Find The Light" at Auditorium, Roma

Thursday Mar. 3rd, 2011
live at Crossroads, Osteria Nuova

Friday Feb. 25th, 2011
"Find The Light" review on Folk World (Germany)

Tuesday Feb. 21st, 2011
"Find The Light" review on Musik An Sich (Germany)

Friday Feb. 18th, 2011
"Find The Light" review on Heaven (Dutch magazine)

Saturday Feb. 12th, 2011
Interview on Radio Cernusco Stereo, Italy. Listen here!

Thursday Feb. 10th, 2011
Francesco Lucarelli and Liam Ó Maonlaí in the Hemifrån news

Wednesday Feb. 9th, 2011
"Mr. Sunshine" broadcast on Electric Boogie Show, Spain

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