Now here's an album that grew on me. Admittedly, I know little of Francesca Lago but given the size of the musical world that is perhaps excusable. The credits on her album "Siberian Dream Map" indicate that she hails from somewhere in Europe but, to paraphrase an old Chinese saying, knowing where someone came from is no indication of where they are going.
I certainly hadn't expected this album or, more specifically, expected the way that this album walks a tightrope between art house and commercialism. The songs are often dark and melancholic but there is a grace to their construction that saves them from being drawn downwards by their lyrical sentiments. In addition, none of these songs sounds small. The arrangements are the secret to this as they spread gloriously when the mood requires it with much of the magic being generated by the cello of Zeno Gabaglio. Because of that very cello, a song like "Hey, Hey Sentry" possesses a notable buoyancy that it would not otherwise possess.
However, let's consider Francesa Lago herself. Her voice is a subtle thing and her songs are likewise worthy of reflection. Sometimes, as with "Slapstick" or I was reminded of Zero Seven and sometimes, as with "Leech", of the current breed of intelligent European songwriters like Sofia Talvik. The point I am trying to make here is that, while Ms Lago is clearly influenced by others, she understands that complexity is infinitely superior to mere duplication. Nothing here is filler or a mere throwaway and it is that quality that gives this album that most elusive of things: lasting value.
To tell the truth, I didn't even realise just how much that I had been listening to this album over the last couple of weeks. I am better informed now as to where Francesca Lago is coming from and I am also more than interested in where she is going to.