Paradox Of Grace
Don Conoscenti is becoming the singer-songwriter for the connoisseur. Someone has already sent you an email or will send you soon asking you if you have heard his music. He seems to be a secret shared only with the closest friends, or with people who have heard every folk recording.
Conoscenti has recorded 11 CD's and each listener has his favorite. For me the best one is Boxes Of Bones but each person I know who has more than one has a different favorite. He splits his recordings between live CD's in which he either sings solo with his guitar or with one more player, and studio recordings in which he plays 10 and more different instruments and invites some friend to accompany him. He is a multi-instrumentalist and plays on many recording's by other performers. Lately he is also a busy producer.
Paradox Of Grace is a example of the in the studio kind, and after listening to seven of Conoscenti's discs, I think the studio recordings are better than the live-solo ones. Conoscenti's is very good as a songwriter, as a singer, as a guitarist, but I am not sure I can say he is one of the best in any of these fields. I think that what makes him special is the way he melds all his talents into a unique and immediately recognizable act.
His singing may remind you of David Wilcox, Chris Rosser, and his buddy Ellis Paul (they always appear in each other's CD's). But in general, his music is more rock than most folk singer-songwriters around. Still, he stays in the acoustic field and rarely uses electric instruments.
The highlight on this CD is The Other Side, a duet with Ellis Paul, in which both performers are at their best and sound like the best songs by the Mama's and Papa's or the early great recordings of America. Maybe they should record one or two CD's as a duo.
This is CD is one more success in an impressive discography, being built stone by stone in the last ten years. I heartedly recommend "Paradox of Grace" and "Boxes of Bones" and they are a must in any folk collection. If you want to hear a solo CD I also recommend My Brilliant Masterpiece.
Always prolific, I hear that by the time I received and reviewed this CD, Conoscenti has released a new live solo CD Extremely Live At Eddie's Attic. May the force be with him!