Vince Chinaski, a “one man band project” as he calls himself,has paid us a visit on three previous occasions, twice last year and once this, each time with a song from the latter part of this 10-track album, ‘My Mother’s Lullaby’, released on 10th November
Vince is a deep thinker; call him a philosopher if you will. On the first one, ‘Unconditional Love’, he spun a tale of his peripatetic journey across Europe, of its various languages and cultures, and of a long-distance relationship he managed to sustain throughout it, along with his love of life.
Then in ‘Opportunities’ he focused on the plight of Alan Kurdi, the child refugee whose photograph, lying dead on a Greek beach, sent shock waves reverberating around the world and who would never know what an opportunity was.
Earlier this year, in ‘Eat your peas’, his attention turned to the subject of the raising of kids, a task that is full of paradoxes and that’s possibly the beauty of it, even if it is exasperating. You want to protect them while they’re growing up but no matter what you say the children eventually go their own way, he observes.
There are some intriguing song titles on the album – ‘Beyond the Docks’, ‘Elvis Impersonator’ and ‘Never painted black’, while he promises in his homespun publicity that it tells a variety of stories, all connected by the underlying truth that change in life is inescapable and we should embrace it. Everything is constantly evolving around us and we need a steady centre if we want to be able to keep up and adapt without losing ourselves. A core rooted in love and compassion.
That is a telling observation of where the world stands in the 11th month of 2023, shorn of love and compassion while things are falling apart and the centre cannot hold; to quote WB Yeats in ‘The Second Coming.’
He also suggests that musically the songs unfold at their own pace and by way of differing styles – Indie-Folk, Alternative, Cinematic, Chamber-Pop, Art-Rock; a cornucopia of his disparate influences from a multitude of different genres, all brought about by falling “like the cartoon character Obelix in the Asterix series, into a big cauldron (of “music brew” rather than magic potion) as a youngster and soaking it all up”.
He adds, “I grew up in a post-hippie home, where music was on 24/7, embracing all styles. Heaps of records and mixtapes everywhere… and grandma’s upright piano. Dylan was king but I wanted to play my Post-Punk records, my brother was into rave and my step-dad was a fan of Patti Smith and Television. My dad was all political, my granddad a jazz buff and my aunt played classical oboe and rural folk. You can imagine what a sonic hotchpotch I grew up in”.
That’s not to mention those peripatetic wanderings, which took him from the sprawling, boiling, religious capital of Rome (where he was a punk), to hedonistic Sin City Berlin, and eventually to Copenhagen and his own personal Little Mermaid; the same one who gave him ‘Unconditional Love’.
You can imagine bringing all this together is going to sound like nothing you’ve heard before (even if you read last night’s review) and in the focus (title) track Vince displays the degree of non-conformity, founded on that punk tradition I guess, that you’d expect from a Zappa (Vince even looks a little like Frank), a Prince, or crossing the (historical) gender threshold, a Sinéad O’Connor or Madonna.
One of Vince’s influences is what he calls “The late Beatles”. I don’t think he’s referring to John and George specifically, rather to what the Liverpudlians were doing experimentally perhaps on their seventh album, ‘Revolver’, and some of the arrangements are suggestive of that, along with a similarly broad use of instrumentation – across the album – not just here, including full orchestration.
Then again there are traces of Bowie as well, along with some passages which seem to have an early 70s prog rock bent.
It’s hard to pin down any particular style. Let’s think up a new genre and call it alt-Folk World Music.
‘My mother’s lullaby’ – both track and album, isn’t light listening and I suspect that for quite a few people Vince Chinaski will be an acquired taste, or not even a taste at all. For the cognoscenti (who will go forth and multiply) it’s an early Christmas present. (Just had to throw in a root Italian word!)
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