Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Paolo Conte

  • The Best of Paolo Conte [Nonesuch, 1998] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

The Best of Paolo Conte [Nonesuch, 1998]
As befits the cosmopolitan roué this old Italian guy is already pigeonholed as, he writes lyrics worth translating. How about "Maybe by now I have forgotten my colleagues/Locked in the bathroom"? Except that "I sing everything and nothing/Music without music" is the point. Assuming he isn't apologizing for his operatic shortcomings (Italians are weird), I assume this refers to the pidgin English "'swunnerful" and "happy feet," to the harelip scat of "Come di," to the half-stifled laughter that actually gets him laid. And to his music. Steering his piano closer to vaudeville vamp than fancy-pants boogie-woogie, commandeering trad-jazz, world-pop, and Euro-schlock colors with panache (not to mention brio), he's a modernist middlebrow and a natural wit who enjoys cynicism too much to let it go to his heart. A-