A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
This is Don Conoscenti's 6th release and it is now clear that he is following three different career paths. One is as the guitarist sideman, mainly with Ellis Paul, but also with David Wilcox and others. The second is as a multi-instrumentalist, playing dozens of instruments on CDs like his Boxes Of Bones from 1996. And the third is as the solo singer-songwriter that we find on Mysterious Light.
At first listening, you will be reminded of Ellis Paul. Just remember though that Paul's special sound has been, at least in part, developed by Conoscenti himself. In his thanks section, he calls Paul his brother. So, we are clearly in the same territory. All the songs here, except Truth Is, are performed solo by Conoscenti.
The first two songs on the CD are real winners, and that's perhaps the reason they appear at the beginning. In Relative Things, Don sings:
|"I know you're looking for truth. |
It's a relative thing.
You can't always count on it to be much help."
This is done with a beautiful melody that will make you sing.
And sing along you will when you listen to the second song, co-written with Paul and Chris Nekvinda, Drink Another Round. This is a catchy tune of the highest order, and could be a hit someday, if some further instrumentation is added. This stripped down version shows the potential of the song, but there is more that could be done to make it dance even more.
I found the rest of the songs to be of lesser quality. The songwriting is not up to Don's best songwriting, and a couple more players could add some diversity. Interestingly, one of the best songs in this CD is Pierce Pettis' Just Like Jim Brown. Conoscenti's version gives a different angle of this great song, with the chorus:
|She is history |
Let her go
We are all in this together
We are all in this alone.
I listened to this CD a few times and always had the feeling that it could be better. It was difficult to listen to the whole thing at one time. Two or three songs at a time were just right. The risks of recording a CD like it was a live solo show can be high. While I would like to be in a bar and listen to a live show like this, it was not completely convincing on the home player.
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Edited by: Mark O'Donnell