Mysterious Insights?

Mysterious Light (Independent Release)

Don Conoscenti

By Victoria Moone

Mysterious Light is an apt title for Don Conoscenti's newest release, as it gives its listeners just enough insight into its songs to leave them with more questions. Conoscenti is one of America's premier up-and-coming performing songwriters, and he certainly lives up to that reputation on this disc.

First of all, Conoscenti has the sense to work with some of the best songwriters in the business. In the past he's worked with the likes of David Wilcox and Emily Saliers, and on this disc, he writes the infectiously rhythmic "Drink Another Round" with Ellis Paul and Chris Nekvinda and covers Pierce Pettis' "Just Like Jim Brown" with a mournful, knowing clarity that will send shivers up your spine.

But Conoscenti is certainly no slouch in the songwriting department, either. "Relative Thing" starts the disc with the provocative statement "I know you're looking for truth, it's a relative thing/you can't always count on it to be much help". And the songs on this album live up to that premise, creating multiple meanings, characters and realities that will have a slightly different interpretation to anyone who listens to them. One of the best and most disturbing examples of this is "Hour In Texarkana," where the sympathetic voice moves like whiplash between the narrator and his nemesis as an encounter between a drifter and a deputy spins to its inevitable conclusion. The song is immediately followed by the gentle love-gone-wrong ballad "Ariana", and the tenderness juxtaposed against the violence of the previous song is unsettling yet at the same time in perfect balance.

Conoscenti is a multi-talented musician who brings a complexity and depth to the music as well by weaving piano and guitar into the simple folk songs that in less adept hands might become too simple. This disc is pretty much a one-man show, since Conoscenti wrote the bulk of the songs, played all the instruments, co-mixed and co-mastered the disc and produced it, which just adds to the strength of this disc.

Mysterious Light is one more substantial piece of evidence that Conoscenti is a master explorer of love with all its many sharp edges, and the darkly-lit songs on this disc will gently tear at your heart long after the music has ended.

Conscenti will appear at the Rudyard Kipling on November 27