Eva Carboni explores Italia Square

I love to receive new music and, particularly, debut albums: but I hate it when I cannot find out much information…this is the case for the scintillating debut by Eva Carboni. Her website has the usual ‘About’ page which I have plagiarised, but I cannot find out who wrote what on the album and, as I am almost OCD about such things, it does frustrate. Moaning over, let’s use what we have and enjoy the music, which is what really matters: Eva is from Sardinia and, should you holiday there, a recommended venue would have to be the Birdland Jazz Club she co-founded and regularly appears as a host and vocal tutor. She studied in the US too and has appeared with many musicians such as Buddy Guy, Marco Mendoza and Vic Martin amongst others. I will now quote the ‘blurb’: “For the past year Eva has been in the recording studio working with songwriter and producer Andy Littlewood on her debut solo album ‘Italia Square’. The album…includes contributions by a host of top musician’s including Mick Simpson, Giovanni Bruno, Andrius Linsdell, and Pete Nelson.” So these guys have contributed to what I am afraid I know not…ah well, the songs do stand up well regardless of writing credits and the opening song, Dark Clouds, sets a lovely blues tone that makes you want to listen to the rest. It has a standard blues/jazz guitar intro that brings in Eva’s powerful and attractive voice. OK, you can tell English isn’t her first language but her tone, emphases and passion more than make up for the occasional odd enunciation and you soon forget about it as the song develops and the added benefit of a neatly picked guitar solo brings this together as a lovely song of love lost. Good Times is a little quicker and adds a hint of soul to a familiar Eagles-y structure. The piano and (I’m guessing) horns via keyboard, gives warmth and colour over the strong vocals and the guitar solo injects a real rock sound that somehow fits. You Don’t Know is picked chords and vocal intro that turns into a blues-rock sound that, with the solo suitably bluesy and rocky, makes it a favourite for me. A Woman Scorned is Hammond and guitar-driven blues with a standard structure but still enough unique touches to make it another contender…and the vocal certainly verifies the old saying “hell hath no fury…” Love Me Tonight is slow blues with great guitar lines and an Ertha Kitt jazziness. Wages Of Sin is more blues tropes woven around a new baseline and vocal approach.

Title track, Italia Square, has a double bass sound on the intro which sounds just great as the song brings a smooth jazz composition to show this lady can sing varied genres, and sing them well. Primrose Path stays in the lounge and is saved from ‘normality’ by an inventive piece of jazz guitar that should have been longer! Sail On By is back to blues with a House of the Rising Sun textures and then brings a bit more jazz in before another neat guitar solo. Quit While I’m Ahead has a rockier feel as guitar, horns and organ make it irresistible. New Day Calling is piano-driven and the intro reminded me of one of Coverdales’s finest moments…Time And Again off Norhwinds. This is a fine vocal performance and the relative simplicity of the backing makes the song. The Witching Hour has a dirty, fuzzed riff that suits the title has a lilt that will draw you in and an acoustic slide solo that could have lasted forever. New York City Lights brings a touch of funkiness to the proceedings as the guitar riff is clever chords with a sharp attack and the solos combine those with the occasional picking that has a Tommy Bolin ambience. The final track, Forever Long, is slow blues with a rocky edge and coruscating chords backing the lovely vocal melody. The guitar solo is measured and uses most of the frets…and isn’t long enough.

This is a very strong debut from a very strong singer and, I’m certain, the next one will be even better. The generous fourteen tracks are all worthy although I feel Eva is best suited to blues proper as she can drench the songs with passion and feeling that, to my ear, the jazzier side can never compete with. A thoroughly entertaining and varied album that will be welcome whenever shuffle deign to play them.

EIGHTpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Track listing:

  1. Dark Clouds
  2. Good Times
  3. You Don’t Know
  4. A Woman Scorned
  5. Love Me Tonight
  6. Wages Of Sin
  7. Italia Square
  8. Primrose Path
  9. Sail On By
  10. Quit While I’m Ahead
  11. New Day Calling
  12. The Witching Hour
  13. New York City Lights
  14. Forever Long

Musicians:

Eva Carboni: vocals

Vic Martin: keyboards, Hammond

Mick Simpson: guitar

Mino Berlano: bass

Fabio Rotondo: drums

(My iTunes run on track this time was a little known bluesman called Faber Smith who was a master of the blues piano and I was treated to his 1940 track East St Louis Blues…so much quality blues from that era.)
Eva Carboni explores Italia Square

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