Piers Faccini, New York City, February 9, 2011

Ernest Barteldes By

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Piers Faccini
Living Room
February 9, 2011
New York, NY

On the opening date of his February 2011 residence at New York City's Living Room, British singer-songwriter Piers Faccini featured mostly music from his recent release, Two Grains of Sand (tôt Ou tard, 2009), a record he describes on his webpage as inspired "by the great African bluesman Ali Farka Toure, the American beat cowboy Bob Dylan, and the dulcet Brazilian maestro Caetano Veloso."

Backed solely by his electric guitar and a percussionist, he started out with a number that, relying mostly on vocal loops, brought to mind old American spirituals. He moved, without interruption, into a Middle Eastern-inspired number, revolving mainly around two major chords.

Again, without pause, he went right into a tune with more of a folksy drive. After introducing himself and announcing his month-long New York "tour" (he is also scheduled to perform at Zebulon and Barbes in Brooklyn), he continued with "The Beggar and the Thief," another original that he explained was dedicated to his "gypsy grandmother." The number was a narrative about the conflict between its titular characters, and seemed to borrow from European folk music like that of Poland, Ukraine or Serbia.

Throughout the set, Faccini played songs from his earlier discs, but mainly concentrated on the newer material. One highlight was a bluesy number whose guitar structure was built around a tarantella, a traditional beat from Italy. At one point, he apologized for having to stop to change his guitar tuning, and mentioned that "airlines are very cruel to musicians, as they don't allow us to carry more than one instrument on board." Another great moment came almost at the end of the set, when he picked up a harmonica for a jazz-inflected number that included plenty of smart guitar riffs.

The first impression of Faccini is one of confidence and charisma, which he exudes from both his singing and playing. He also has an impressive finger-picking style, using the lower strings to create a bass line of sorts, to compensate for the absence of a bassist. Faccini's music is fresh and enjoyable, and is overdue for wider discovery by audiences in the United States.

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