Album review: ZUCCHERO – Black Cat

ZUCCHERO - Black Cat

Polydor/Universal [Release date 29.04.16]

Zucchero may not be that well known in the UK, although I remember his sterling version of Las Palabras de Amor’ at The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert back in 1992. This album has already topped his native Italian charts and the Swiss charts. The album includes famed producers T Bone Burnett and Brendan O’Brien, plus some top session musicians including Lenny Castro (Toto), Nathan East (Eric Clapton/Phil Collins), Jim Keltner and guitarist Tim Pierce.

He sings most of the songs in Italian which adds to the music, covering musical bases from blues to gospel to rock and all points in between. The two opening songs, ‘Partigiano Reggiano’ and ’13 Buone Ragioni’ are foot stomping, head nodding blues rockers – nothing to heavy, just damn fine tunes.

His long time association with U2 appears on ‘Streets Of Surrender (S.O.S.)’, with lyrics by Bono and featuring Mark Knopfler on guitar. A very heartfelt vocal performance with lyrics based on the Paris attacks of last November. Another co-write is the pop flavoured ‘Turn The World Down’ where Zucchero teams-up with Elvis Costello. Both these songs Zucchero sings entirely in English.

The gospel of ‘Hey Lord’ sees the album head off in another musical direction and is one of the highlights for me. Jerry Douglas adds some sublime dobro and lap steel on this one, you can see why he wins so many country and Americana awards for his playing.

Take the plunge and have a listen to this album, an enjoyable mix of blues, rock, pop, gospel and soul all topped by the distinctive vocals of Zucchero. Quite why he isn’t a bigger name here in the UK is a mystery as our European cousins know a good singer and artist when they hear one.  ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

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