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Sad Minstrel - The Flight Of The Phoenix CD (album) cover


Sad Minstrel


Prog Folk

3.81 | 17 ratings

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4 stars Sad Minstrel is the solo debut of Malombra’s Fabio Casanova (is that his real name?!). This album was an unexpected delight that I stumbled across while trolling for on-line bargains recently and has been on my CD player’s heavy rotation ever since. This is progressive folk music without a doubt, but is in total rather unlike anything I’ve heard before. Think of flute and heavy tempo passages somewhat reminiscent of seventies Jethro Tull mixed with digital keyboard and programmed drums sequences ala Alan Parsons around the same time period, but overlaid with both English and Italian vocals of an emotive and bard-like Latin singer (Armando Tirelli comes to mind), plus lyrics that tend toward dark fanciful themes in the vein of ‘Aqualung’ or ‘Broadsword and the Beast’ and you’ll have a sense of what this album sounds like. Sort of. But although comparisons can be made to individual facets of these tracks, nobody I can think of has managed to put all of them together into a single album. That is, until the Sad Minstrel came along.

The marquee song is the title track, in which Casanova (really – is that his actual name?!) melds chanting and shouting vocals with a persistent beat and heavy guitar in a rollicking version of the mythical Phoenix’s tale of destruction and resurrection, all with a uniquely Italian warm-blooded sense of theatrics and passion. A truly inspiring piece of music.

The opening track is more subdued in tone, but a read of the lyrics sheds some light on the dark nature of these songs:

“Betrayed by false friends after timeless deceptions, by witches and bitches he once loved so much; by the cyclical tricks of his private obsessions – he watched in the mirror and saw his brain crack”


The Italian-vocal tracks tend to be more elaborated than the English ones, accented by digital flourishes and an abundance of the whistle that sounds like a wooden flute and carries the tempo to fanciful heights and dark lows. These are the embellishing tracks on the album that serve to both separate the heavier English songs and leave an indelible Latin mark on the work as a whole.

Not that every track stands out. The spoken-word “Silent Revolution” comes off as more of a stage play scene than a musical composition, and the long closing track “The wood of Memories” tends to drag on under the weight of the synthesized strings just a bit too long (and in the course of doing so teeters ever-so-close to sounding like one of the transitional pieces on Jeff Wayne’s ‘War of the Worlds’).

But overall this is a charming and engaging collection of animated and vibrant folk-tinged tunes with very modern treatments. A four star effort without a doubt, and a fun album I would recommend to just about any progressive music fan. Well worth adding to your collection.


ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |


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