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Psiche

Paolo Conte

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Album Review

Psiche is the 13th studio album of Paolo Conte's 35-year career. Not exactly prolific, the former lawyer from Asti built an outstanding body of work between 1974 and 1990, but recorded sporadically after that. Like João Gilberto or Jimmy Scott, Conte is one of those artists who very early on created a unique style and persona, and never strayed too far from with it. Psiche thus resembles all of Conte's releases since 1992's 900: a set of 15 unimpeachable new songs that perpetuate the myth of Paolo Conte, but add little to it. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and Psiche is indeed a fine album. True, some may write off this record as an exercise in style. Yet style has always been exactly Conte's forte, and no one can possibly deny that he has it in spades. Old themes and characters are revisited (the theater, dancing, bicycle racing, fascinating women, European culture, American swing) and set to Conte's trademark smoky jazz ballad treatment. Perhaps the most distinctive element of Psiche is the abundant use of synthesizer sounds ("Il Quadrato e il Cerchio," "Bella di Giorno," "Omicron"), particularly as it comes on the wake of the acoustic return-to-roots implied on Elegia, Conte's superb 2004 album. The results, if not as individually memorable as those of the preceding album, give Psiche a sonic identity of its own that grows with the record. He may be past 70 and starting to show in his voice, but Paolo Conte remains a class act.

Biography

Born: 1937 in Asti, Piedmont, Italy

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

One of the most idiosyncratic, charismatic, and internationally successful Italian singer/songwriters of the past four decades, Paolo Conte created his own unique style, combining a love for jazz and music hall together with a weary yet sympathetic and humorous understanding of human foibles. Born to a well-to-do Asti (Piedmont, Italy) family in 1937, Conte began to learn the piano at an early age, together with his younger brother Giorgio Conte — who would also become a famous songwriter in...
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Psiche, Paolo Conte
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