Lucia Comnes

REVIEW: Lucia Comnes “Have We Met Before”


Lucia Comnes – Have We Met Before

“I’m not here to be sorry,” from Lucia Comnes’ “Soul On a Journey,” grips the way many mainstream songs today do not. She has a beautiful melody, sings it with melancholy strength & surrounds it with gnarly guitars & a haunting backup. That’s a song best served with sophistication.

The San Francisco-born Lucia (violin/viola/guitar) recorded this in Italy with Brooklyn-born Jefferson Hamer (acoustic guitar/dobro solo/violin/viola/strings section/electric bass/shaker/tambourine/vocals). Italy has a musical vibe that’s been known for stimulating melodies & musical approaches that aren’t always inherent in America (Eugenio Finardi/Francesca Chirara). Yet the path has musical spaciousness. Lucia’s music doesn’t get too soaked in Euro-pop or with synths. Quite cool & engaging.

Lucia Comnes

The 11-potpourri of tunes produced by Comnes/Hamer on Have We Met Before (Drops Sept. 7-Independent) is indelibly a product of the past with a modern delivery twist. Lucia’s 7th CD has a retro ambiance in tradition — but not in performance.

She draws from the vocalizing greenhouse of Peggy Lee, Patti Page, Connie Francis & Natalie Cole. Smoothly delivered rather than tightrope walks on range & power. This genre takes a little more care & skill to get the song across emotionally with poignancy & doesn’t usually come with E above high C’s that aren’t conducive to getting a song lyric across.

“You Lift Me Up,” is contemporary & commercial — but the arrangement is tight & the lyrics aren’t your typical American cliché-posturing. The music does “lift you up” the way The Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up,” did. Her songs ooze with liquor found in a piece of dark chocolate.

A Tom Waits cover, “Hold On,” is a surprise. Lucia augments it with warmth & punctuates it with a truly remarkable Americana-roots vocal tinge. I’d expect a jazz tone, but she chose wisely. This is lovely with the Euro-instrumentation that supplements the sadness with supple tones & optimism mixed with charm. Lucia’s varied flavors of bluegrass, folk, Americana, Irish balladry & rock with earthy lyrics & rosy vocal allows her music to breathe.

“The Last Cowboy,” & “With Me You Won’t Win Twice,” are generously fluid country fare. Then, Lucia shifts gears & goes late-night whiskey & cigarettes with “How Can You Just Leave Me Like This.” A superb atmospheric song with shadowy vibes. Typical Italian gnarly Eugenio Finardi-type guitars are perfectly suited to the musical milieu’s tension & vocal timbre.

Highlights – “Soul On a Journey,” “You Lift Me Up,” “Stay In the Feeling,” “Hold On,” “Have We Met Before?” (a good duet), “The Last Cowboy,” “How Can You Just Leave Me Like This” & “I Wish That You Would Be Holding Me Tonight.”

Musicians – Luca Giovacchini (electric/acoustic guitars/dobro), Roberto Villa (upright & electric bass), Diego Sapignoli (drums & percussion), Erik Deutsch (keyboards) & Olympia Hetherington (bgv).

Violin color image by Allesandro Illuzzi. CD cover photo by Wes Malkin. CD @ Bandcamp +

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