It is called “Folkways” the new album by singer and composer Costanza Alegiani presented at the Casa del Jazz in Rome. “Folkways” is a record of identity songs, about folk becoming myth. A manifesto of belonging to an epic tradition, rooted in an America without a place anymore. Through an original language and arrangements that alternate acoustic lyricism with more electric moments, in “Folkways” Costanza Alegiani offers both original songs and others that are traditional and rich in history, to which she manages to give new light, tone and shades of color. But while the title represents an homage to the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, the world’s largest archive of the folk genre, Costanza Alegiani ‘s intent, however, is as far from philology as it gets. The genesis of his third album-after 2014’s “Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair” and 2018’s “Grace in Town,” a duo with Fabrizio Sferra – responds to an awareness of a deep connection with that musical literature whose themes touch on personal feelings and moods but at the same time are universal and, in any case, capable of illuminating the contemporary.
“Thanks to this project,” Costanza explains, “I have allowed myself to speak the truth about many feelings that belong to me, including very uncomfortable ones, giving voice to visions and fears, dreamlike images, memories, confessions, but also to hope and freedom. Costanza Alegiani cites among her musical references, such folk tutelary deities as Johnny Cash, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen and Joan Baez, as well as distinguished performers such as Barbara Dane, Jacob Niles, and Odetta. Two classic authors of American literature, Edgar Lee Masters and Emily Dickinson, appear with their poems among the authors of song lyrics, two of them covers of Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie. In this performance, Costanza Alegiani becomes an actress and interpreter of this world, making the emotions of the various characters alive and palpable, following the rhythm and accents of their monologues. And here, then, parade on the sound stage of “Folkways” a large gallery of characters (real, imaginary or literary) that Costanza somehow brings back to life.
They are souls that bare themselves, each telling of an authentic feeling, affirming their identity (“It Ain’t Me Babe” and “Carry Me Home”), a choice to be made (“The Ice Skater”), self-affirmation in a revelatory dream (“Waking Dream”), the sense of the end and the nearness of the end (“I Felt a Funeral, In My Brain, “When I Was a Young Girl”), the feeling of escape and evasion but also of serene resignation (“Tender is the Night, Tonight”), the loneliness of spirit (“Lonesome Valley”), the confession of a murderer without retribution (“The Last Blues of Benjamin Fraser”). In what can be considered a journey into the past and musical tradition of the United States, in search of new paths that can best dialogue with the present, they support the singing of Costanza Alegiani the tenor sax of Marcello Allulli, the double bass (and electric bass) of Riccardo Gola, and the two guests Fabrizio Sferra on drums and Francesco Diodati on guitar.