My Brilliant Masterpiece

Don Conoscenti

(Cogtone 007)

Cogtone Records
PO Box 1332
Decatur, GA 30031
E-mail: don@doncon.com

A review written for Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange
by Shawn Linderman

Bucking a current trend in folk music, Don Conoscenti forsook supporting musicians and vocalists on his latest CD, My Brilliant Masterpiece. The result is a warm, intimate recording that closely resembles his live performances. After quite a few listenings, I set it aside; when I played it again, I was surprised to find how much I'd missed it.

Opening with the title cut, My Brilliant Masterpiece, Don addresses the awkwardness of dating, particularly that first date. Haven't we all despaired of being able to change the tongue-tied uncertainty of the moment into a grand event?

You wouldn't expect it from the title, but That Train ponders what's beyond this life, and warns of building your dreams on materialistic things.

She's Not is one of the best love lost songs I've heard in quite a while. Superb images capture the refusal to accept the situation: "... don't have the strength to be forgiving, but what else can you do? ... tape her picture to the window, dream up lies she never told ..."

Tumbleweed passes through the album just like its namesake. A quick little scene of a footloose fellow passing through a Texas town and hoping to get close to a local beauty.

Don wonders if, perhaps, love might be the real way to redemption in Blackeyed Suzi.

4th of July is another pretty little snapshot, detailing how it feels to be in love. In counterpoint, Love Had Come likens the fierceness love can adopt and how it can "burn that whole place down." Don really lets fly with funky guitar licks and general vocal mayhem on this song.

A woman leaves a life of wasted dreams in My Farewell Parade. The adjoining Jen's Jig is a lovely instrumental that evokes comparisons to Dick Gaughan's fine guitar work.

Like 4th of July, Crooked Little Smile describes what it's like to be in love, but this time Don really opens the floodgates, pouring out images great and small, all of which we recognize with great fondness.

While a relationship may end, can the love that created it every really go? Don presents a good argument for the ever-remaining shadow of that love in Echo.

Michael Smith's Sister Clarissa has a friend in Conoscenti's Mrs. Whitney, co-written with Tom Prasado-Rao. Both are fond treatments of journeys into the past when visiting an old teacher.

The Fallen Angels is another love song, bittersweet in acknowledgment that sometimes white lies intended to present ourselves in a better light can ultimately lead to love's demise.

An undocumented short thirteenth tune closes Don's third CD. His fretwork on this tune is simply wonderful, with amazingly subtle note squeezes.

Weaving in and out of love from both directions, touching on friendships and loss, Don Conoscenti's lastest solo acoustic work is cozy and warm. But don't be misled into thinking these tunes are slow and simple. Don can be blistering away on guitar, stretching his vocal range to its limits and interspersing wild wails and growls, and yet the song still comes across as comforting. Don't ask me how he does it-- that's what's so damned fascinating about his music!

Edited by Kerry Dexter

Copyright 1997, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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