Monday 25 September 2023

'Two Things of Gold' by Two Things of Gold

Marking a sensational return to the A.MA Records fold is singer and songwriter, Francesca Sortino, now serving as one-half of the Two Things of Gold duo alongside producer Diego Lombardo.

While the mother-son dynamic have now officially launched their collaborative project together, musically, they have been intertwined for some years.  Sortino's last recording for A.MA Records was the brilliant 'Be Free' album release as far back as 2017 which not only saw the label's official introduction to Sortino's indelible talents but also of the indelible talents of producer Lombardo who served as that album's producer.

'Be Free' still stands tall as an excellent project released within the hallowed walls of A.MA Records - bolstered by tracks including 'Good Girl', 'Life is Fine' and 'Let Your Soul Stand Cool', the Sortino-Lombardo combination birthed a quintessential neo-soul record with subtle nods to jazz and dusty hip-hop-inspired production.  But what were merely subtle nods in 'Be Free' have become more openly embraced as forming the backbone of 'Two Things of Gold' now reaching listeners six years later.

The album showcases some fantastic production throughout its fourteen tracks and, if possible, really exceeds the scope of its predecessor.  Spearheaded by the infectious groove of lead single 'Rooms To Go' - a track that wouldn't be too out of place to have Nicola Conte's name stamped all over the production - the album's diverse and versatile productions more openly embrace jazz, elements of future soul and downtempo electronica.  And creatively, these are shifts that Sortino has consistently embraced within her music - from the aforementioned 'Be Free' release to her more bossa-inspired 'INside ART' single releases with Gerardo Frisina, or even the soulful house-enriched sounds of Sortino guesting for Reekee on the brilliant 'Shared Love' single (Roots Underground Records).  It's Sortino's passion for music and desire to try new things creatively that makes Lombardo's sonic soundscapes such an exciting playground for the Italian vocalist.

Thanks to some fantastic musical performances from the album's core performers including Roberto Rossi (horns), Alessandro Maiorino (bass), Alberto Parmegiani (guitar) and Mauro Beggio (drums), highlights here are certainly aplenty.  The opening title track sets the scene for the album perfectly while the dreamy 'Malachi' is an essential pick.  'Rooms To Go' was cited earlier and the song's excellent accompanying video is really worth a look as well.  The spiritual jazz of 'Wind Blows' closes the album out perfectly once again calling to mind just how perfect a union the Sortino-Lombardo combination really is.

Despite the album's title, and group name, serving as an affectionate nod to each's discernible talents, it's nice to see the Robert Frost poem 'Nothing Gold Can Stay' receive a sly nod - a revered piece of work that pays homage to the fact that time invariably passes, nothing stays the same and we ultimately lose the things we love the most.  Conversely, that's the infinite power of art - while Robert Frost has since passed, his words will remain and be heralded by generations for decades to come.  And for Francesca Sortino & Diego Lombardo, theirs is yet another contribution to the arts that will remain long after their time has come. 

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