Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Daniel De Vita - Lost In Translation

Maybe it’s because they’re from Argentina, but guitar gaucho Daniel De Vita and his band come at things from a refreshing angle.  On the evidence of Lost In Translation these guys are shit hot musos, but at the same time not remotely “up themselves”, as we say in Britain.  That is to say, they may be up to their armpits in technical proficiency, but they wear their skills lightly.
Imagine, if you will, that a hip six-string honcho - like Robben Ford, say - has had a few too many beers with some mates, then stumbled into the studio and had a laugh applying their talents to some straight-up rootsy tunes.  That’s kinda the vibe I get listening to tracks like the
Daniel De Vita - a Latino twist
Pic by Vanina Falcone
opener here, ‘Every Time I’m Close To You’.  The song itself is a simple enough rock’n’roll type affair, akin to Elvis’s ‘Trying To Get To You’ maybe.  But De Vita and co give it a few contemporary twists and turns, with spiky guitar chords bumping into lazy drums from Gabrial Cabiaglia and ultra-busy bobbling bass from Mariano D’Andrea.  Harp and organ also pop up to the surface now and then to add colour, before De Vita adds a clever solo, dropping in tantalisingly unusual notes and chords.  And though De Vita’s voice is a tad whiny and squawky at times, it remains entirely likeable, communicating his own enjoyment.
A similar vibe is at play on the likes of ‘My Sweetest Regret’ and ‘California Rocket Fuel’ – essentially uncomplicated songs getting jazzed up a bit, but not to the hilt.  The effect is frolicsome fun rather than exhibitionism.  What I know about harmony and counterpoint wouldn’t take up much of anyone’s time, but I reckon these dudes are playing around with them to good effect on ‘My Sweetest Regret’, while on ‘California Rocket Fuel’ a measured, swaying N’Awlins groove is underpinned by parping, Sousaphone-like bass and decorated with barroom piano by Nicolás Raffetta, while De Vita’s simple vocal is rhythmic and characterful.
‘She Claps On The 1 & 3’ also evokes the Big Easy, in Fats Domino rock’n’roll fashion, fun and frothy with low-end twanging guitar and jauntily tooting harp from Nicolás Smoljan, and if music has to swing to mean a thing, then this means plenty.  The most conventional thing here though, is the excellent ‘6 Years Blues’, a slowie that’s still made distinctive by quivering guitar notes, cool jazzy bass and minimalist drums, topped off with a boozily conversational guitar solo and harmonica interjections.
But they venture into more exotic terrain too, with the likes of ‘Sand Between Your Fingers’, which may be blues Jim, but not as we know it.  A funereal beat clashes with discordant chords, moans of harp, and fuzzy, synthy bass notes that echo around like an asthmatic tuba.  As it develops, a slow, low descending riff gradually emerges under brittle picking from De Vita, before picking up speed like a steam locomotive getting clear of the city.  And on the dreamy opening of the instrumental ‘Breaking The Praise’, De Vita’s slide playing sounds less like a guitar than muted, distorted trombone or some such, as a prelude to a couple of breakneck gospel-like segments.
The album closes with the driving instrumental ‘DFW’, with more of De Vita’s off-kilter, wobbly guitar tones skating over the top of a funking groove that’s all chunky rhythm guitar and bass and rattling drums, accented by dashes of harp and organ – and a suitably enjoyable note on which to close proceedings.
Lost In Translation sure doesn’t groan under the weight of anybody’s ego.  With nine songs spread over a trim 33 minutes, Daniel De Vita and his buddies do their thang con brio, as I’m sure they’re always saying down Buenos Aires way.  Mixing up Texas blues, rock'n'roll, and New Orleans funkiness, they keep it short and sweet, throw in some modern curve balls, and then go on their merry way.  File under 'Unexpected Pleasures'!
Lost In Translation is available now on Lunaria Records, here.

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